The Mars Volta was always a signify of insurrection, a vessel for side-stepping expectations. Forged by brothers-at-arms Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, they became known for wild solos and even wilder haircuts, blending progressive music, sci-fi drenched lyricism, and style-significantly less improvisation. This new album – self-titled – is their 1st in a decade, and it spins the dials at the time a lot more. In probably the top act of insurrection, The Mars Volta have gone… pop.
Most likely their most direct and open up report nevertheless, ‘The Mars Volta’ feels like all those seminal Peter Gabriel hits, or even early 80s electro funk. Bold, dynamic, and vibrant, it is riddled with hidden complexities, most notably in its lyrics, which eschew the fantasy of old for sheer autobiography. If those people themes of paranoia, abuse, and survival slash shut to the bone, then that is kinda the level – they’re knowledgeable by the struggles Cedric’s loved ones have had with the Church of Scientology.
‘Blacklight Shine’ sets out the stall from the off – glossy, up-front and draped in power, it feels virtually confrontational in its sheen. ‘Graveyard Love’ and ‘Shore Story’ expand on this, stretching the pop-edged sheen right up until breaking stage, like a sheet of plastic pulled out to some thing translucent, the colors distorted to lysergic stages.
Nevertheless for all its dynamic nature, the materials below is dominated by components of complexity. The lyrics flip on a pin’s head, the lawful concerns with the Scientologist team pushing the tracks towards far more typical themes of paranoia and handle. It’s tempting to check out this via a political lens, much too – a report built in the aftermath of the Trump Presidency, with its visuals illustrating the horrors of American imperialism on the individuals of Puerto Rico.
Tracks this kind of as ‘Fresh Burns From Flashbacks’ issue to the lingering effects of trauma, still tackle it in this sort of an electrifying, and distinct way. ‘Palm Comprehensive Of Crux’ feels like a authentic higher issue in terms of psychological depth, but also in phrases of its aesthetic elasticity.
Closing with the taut – a touch above two minutes – of ‘Collapsible Shoulders’, the record then concludes with ‘The Requisition’. Minor on here stretches beyond the four moment mark, with The Mars Volta opting for brevity and precision, in excess of the extra of aged. But maybe that is in which the obstacle lies, both to on their own and their viewers – in hitting reset, The Mars Volta have strike on an extremely surprising new stage in their multi-faceted evolution.
Words and phrases: Robin Murray