let me get it out of the way that this is my least favorite TMV album so far. i'm a much bigger fan of the more eccentric, proggy sound of their earlier work, and i'm not the biggest alternative / art rock guy. luckily, they still keep many of the things that make their music so enjoyable here, but the introduction of these more standard and less experimental sounds doesn't really add anything to my enjoyment. however, the songs are still well-written, enjoyable rock tracks. nothing on this album is really unlistenable at all - it's perfectly decent. it's just nowhere near the level of greatness that i know Mars Volta is capable of, unfortunately.
the biggest thing helping the sound of this album, in my opinion, is the length. this is by far The Mars Volta's shortest album standing at 8 tracks and 50 minutes, with all of their other albums being 60+. the low number of tracks allows each to make their own impact and for a good amount of variation. nothing stays for too long, nothing gets old. there are certainly weaker tracks than others, but the length of them is never the issue i have. we begin with a pleasant ballad, Since We've Been Wrong, which is probably my favorite ballad on the album. it's a great, chill tonesetter that establishes the somber and moody tone the rest of the album has. even the more active tracks like Teflon and Cotopaxi feel distraught, almost upset. the album touches on the subject of kidnappings and vanishings a lot, something that Cedric's said is a real part of Latin culture, and something really scary for a lot of people. i think the distressed and concerned feel of the album reflects those feelings of losing people out of the blue around you.
the track Teflon is a great track, definitely one of the most accessible songs here. it's got a fantastic vocal melody from Cedric, and its driven by this buzzy, kinda distorted bassline that carries a lot of the load. there's weird, angular guitars that appear to give that feeling of unease over the chorus, and it comes together in a great track. Cotopaxi is a track in the similar vein, the riffs sound like a total old-school hard rock song but twisted and crumpled up. the song has fantastic progression too, going through multiple similar but distinct sounds before ending in an explosive reprise.
there are other decent tracks like Desperate Graves, or the closer Luciforms, but the biggest issue im having with this record is there isn't really much to talk about. these tracks are decent, they're listenable, but they're not particularly great or stand-out in TMV's discography. they're no better than pretty much any song off Frances or Deloused, even the highs of Octahedron don't really compare. it's decent, but there just isnt enough to talk about with this thing aside from a few good tracks. and there are certainly bad moments too - the weird electronic drum sounds on the track Copernicus sound kinda awful and ruin the smooth vibe of the track. but for the rest of the songs, there isn't really much to say. it's just decent. and thats the saddest thing about this record - i never run out of things to fuckin say about The Mars Volta. i could talk about and dissect any song of Frances for hours, but that just isnt the case here unfortunately.
Octahedron is a decent enough listen that really doesnt stand for anything in The Mars Volta's great discography. it doesnt really make a grand statement artistically or conceptually, it doesnt explore new sonic territory, it just is. it's a decent, enjoyable rock album, and that's really it.
FAVORITE - Cotopaxi, Teflon, Luciforms, Since We've Been Wrong
LEAST FAVORITE - Copernicus