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The Mars Volta - The Mars Volta review




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Band: The Mars Volta
Album: The Mars Volta
Release date: September 2022


01. Blacklight Shine
02. Graveyard Love
03. Shore Story
04. Blank Condolences
05. Vigil
06. Qué Dios Te Maldiga Mí Corazón
07. Cerulea
08. Flash Burns From Flashbacks
09. Palm Full Of Crux
10. No Case Gain
11. Tourmaline
12. Equus 3
13. Collapsible Shoulders
14. The Requisition


If you like The Mars Volta you probably won't like The Mars Volta.

The Mars Volta is one of the bands I didn't really expect to come back. They had such a trailblazing run in the 2000s, and even if their last two records from that run are love-or-hate in their fanbase, they still had some of that passionate and explosive energy that made The Mars Volta such a force to be reckoned with. So something about that ten years run from 2002's Tremulant to 2012's Noctourniquet felt complete. Omar and Cedric kept themselves busy since, even reviving their pre-The Mars Volta, At The Drive-In, for 2017's in•ter a•li•a, which was a pretty good record by the way, as well as starting new projects. So I don't really understand the need for the revival of The Mars Volta. And I especially don't get naming the reunion album as a self-titled if it's the most uncharacteristically The Mars Volta-ish album.

To get it out of the way: this is a pretty major sound departure. This is an art pop record. The Mars Volta's place on this website was already questionable (and if you ask me At The Drive-In are closer to metal), so such a move takes them even further. Thus, there's two ways to look at this record: as a The Mars Volta record and as an art pop record. The title of the record indicates that the band would rather you take the first approach, which is pretty mind boggling to me, since that would be equivalent to shooting yourself in the foot. Generally, self-titled albums that are not debuts indicate large statements about who the band is. We know how much that can backfire.

So how does The Mars Volta work as a The Mars Volta record. Well, it is still somewhat recognizable, mostly due to Cedric's instantly recognizable vocals. And to be fair, art pop has always been present in The Mars Volta's music alongside the prog rock and the jazz fusion. So an album that intensely focuses on one of the aspects of their sound in favor of another isn't that unimaginable. But what this album proves is that The Mars Volta cannot make that style interesting for the entire duration of the record. And a lot of these songs would've worked quite fantastically if featured alongside songs of their usual style. And it's really not like the art pop part of their sound that was the most impressive in the first place. Building an audience based on explosive, frantic, surreal music and then releasing something that is this mellow and accessible is asking a bit too much open-mindedness. It's something that would've worked better if it was just another The Mars Volta record, one where we can see them indulging in a part of their sound. But no, it had to be the record, a self-titled reunion record.

But let's remove the context of the record for a second. Let's remove the weight of expectations, even if quite a lot of them are imposed by the band rather than self-imposed. How does The Mars Volta work as an art pop record. Well, for one, I don't think Cedric's vocals work for this style in the long run. He can certainly hold his own, and art pop is full of very idiosyncratic vocalists, but he's not someone I'd immediately reach for for mellow music. The album also has some of that characteristic intricacy that is worthy of the "art" side of "art pop", and it does keep just a bit of the prog rock and jazz fusion of previous records, though I fear it's more projecting than actual content, instead replaced by stull like neo-psychedelia. So there's definitely enough here to make it at least a bit worthwhile, and some of these songs can prove to be growers. But it's still not enough to really be convincing. The production doesn't have the lushness that would be required by these mellow and eclectic sounds, and while the sound palette is quite interesting, the songwriting feels a bit directionless, like the songs aren't really building up to anything instead of just ending eventually. And no track is as guilty as "Qué Dios Te Maldiga Mí Corazón", a latin rock track where it finally feels like things are getting interesting, only to be blue balled by the track's length of less than two minutes. Though one thing is for sure, looking at the record without its The Mars Volta context is the only way I could get any enjoyment from it.

Overall, The Mars Volta is not a disaster, does have its fair share of interesting moments, but fails to live up to any kind of expectations, whether as a record of its chosen styles, and especially not as the much anticipated The Mars Volta comeback.





Written on 22.09.2022 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 128 users
22.09.2022 - 11:16
Rating: 6
Netzach
Planewalker
This seems like an entirely unnecessary album. Their first two albums are some of my all time favourites and they've been going downhill ever since. Sounds like they've reached the self-titled bottom and are smelling their own farts by now.
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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22.09.2022 - 11:43
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
All my friends back in the days did listen to them, not me hated then, hate now. I dont see any value in this band
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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22.09.2022 - 12:55
Ivor
Staff
Quote:
Thus, there's two ways to look at this record: as a The Mars Volta record and as an art pop record. The title of the record indicates that the band would rather you take the first approach

I would question your train of thought here. More often than not, a self-titled album is also a debut album of the band. Given that point of view one could rather argue that self-titling this reunion album the band might refer more to a new beginning and reinvention of sorts than just a straightforward continuation of the previous chapter.

I.
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No friends for playing games
No foes who scorn my name
Computerized machines of steel and rust
/---/
No friends in my house on Mars
No foes in my house on Mars
I was born in my house on Mars
I will die in my house on Mars
-- Ayreon - My House on Mars
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22.09.2022 - 13:01
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Ivor on 22.09.2022 at 12:55

Quote:
Thus, there's two ways to look at this record: as a The Mars Volta record and as an art pop record. The title of the record indicates that the band would rather you take the first approach

I would question your train of thought here. More often than not, a self-titled album is also a debut album of the band. Given that point of view one could rather argue that self-titling this reunion album the band might refer more to a new beginning and reinvention of sorts than just a straightforward continuation of the previous chapter.

That's likely what the band was going for. A "this is what to expect from us in the future". I do question their decision to use the "Mars Volta" name for it instead of just starting something new, though.
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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22.09.2022 - 15:20
Ivor
Staff
Written by RaduP on 22.09.2022 at 13:01
I do question their decision to use the "Mars Volta" name for it instead of just starting something new, though.

Not disputing that. It's for the band to answer.

I.
----
No friends for playing games
No foes who scorn my name
Computerized machines of steel and rust
/---/
No friends in my house on Mars
No foes in my house on Mars
I was born in my house on Mars
I will die in my house on Mars
-- Ayreon - My House on Mars
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22.09.2022 - 20:07
Nejde
Philosoraptor
Written by Netzach on 22.09.2022 at 11:16

This seems like an entirely unnecessary album. Their first two albums are some of my all time favourites and they've been going downhill ever since. Sounds like they've reached the self-titled bottom and are smelling their own farts by now.


I partly agree. De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute are phenomenal albums and I really like Amputechture too. After that the albums have declined in quality even though I still find them listenable. This album is decent background music at the most. Equus 3 is a good song though and probably the one that sounds the most like an actual The Mars Volta song.
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"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
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22.09.2022 - 20:59
Rating: 6
musclassia

I did like a few songs and other moments in it, but I did spend more time being bored/annoyed by it than actively enjoying it. Can't say I'm surprised that they'd pull something like this; the time I saw them sub-headline at a festival in 2011, the first half of the set was Noctourniquet material, ie an album that wasn't released until the following year, so I get the impression they don't particularly care about giving the fans what they want, which I can respect as someone who's never been much of a fan
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