The Mars Volta - The Mars Volta
Sep 16, 2022

I don’t remember The Mars Volta sounding like a funky pop/rock band, but why not? Steven Wilson has been messing around in this field and all the big classic prog bands had this side to them particularly after the 70s and in the 80s essentially. So I guess the question then becomes not how prog can they be? But how much interesting prog elements can The Mars Volta bring to modern pop-rock and on dual openers Blacklight Shine/Graveyard Love the answer is quite remarkable, with sideways funk-riffage, shuffling drums and synth it’s just simply an unprecedented amount musically and a metric fuck-tonne in it’s arrangement.

Shore Story hits more R&B and it’s difficult to assign credit for genre expansion 6/10.
Blank Condolences with it’s tasty little guitar breaks is a standout for sure and by Vigil the hope of any stand alone hard hitting drum opus appears slim and The Mars Volta seem to be riding the King Gizzard/Tame Impala waves which is actually not bad.
Que Dios Te Maldinga Mi Corazon
kicks of like a salsa but is absolutely muscled up by the rhythm section and I wish this track wasn’t so short 7/10.

Throughout The Mars Volta’s perhaps misguidedly labeled ‘The Mars Volta’ album they continue to surprise just how pop they can be but contrastingly with measured and tasteful musical placement; just how well they can build an interesting arrangement out of what otherwise would likely be a bland pop song and Cerulea is almost an apt telling of this although a little flat.

Flash Burns From Flashbacks
Once you have fully accepted this new approach Flash Burns From Flashbacks goes down a treat 8/10. A love song is Palm Full Of Crux and it really has a nice ambience and grooves beautifully with a peaceful and calming stride 8/10

No Case Gain is much weirder and I don’t really like how it starts but it gets more interesting as it goes like a lot of the tracks amongst The Mars Volta and some old school vocals break through 7/10.

With a fragile and raw acoustic Tourmaline is vocally fronted with breathy up-close whispers and sweet harmonies, the mellotron is a nice touch here and it’s some how spacey and dreamy which leaves me wondering if this is the future approach of The Mars Volta? 8/10
Equus 3/Collapsible Shoulders is reggae/dub influenced but the pop influences are in overdrive and this is a little less desirable than some of the other efforts found within and they are both a 5/10 while The Requisition is the mildly better closer.

All in all it’s a disappointing end to an experiment in chill music that at times both confused and impressed me. The songs are short and overproduction is likely a very intentional choice but it also makes The Mars Volta’s self-titled a little too easy listening for their powerful dynamics that could’ve made key moments bigger, rather than flatter. The high falsetto type vocal works at times but is very overused and becomes downright fatiguing in the last three songs and at times energises unfortunate comparisons to Maroon 5. Had they cut the last three I would’ve given a higher score.

Check Out: Blank Condolences, Flash Burns From Flashbacks, Palm Full Of Crux, Tourmaline.

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