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The Mars Volta - The Mars Volta (Album Review)

Monday, 26 September 2022 Written by Tom Morgan

The Mars Volta’s self-titled comeback album has been described as the band ‘going pop’, but it’s nowhere near as radical a shift as has been made out. Their previous full-length, 2012’s underrated ‘Nocturniquet’, was a notable shift towards this revamped style, as was the more recent solo work of guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López.

Rather than a bold rebirth, these 14 tracks are a natural destination for The Mars Volta. It feels like an artistic course correction, following the duo’s (Rodríguez-López and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala) attempts to reignite their early post-hardcore act At The Drive-In.

And what a course correction it is. A stunning example of less being more, ‘The Mars Volta’ is the most concise and soulful work the band have released.

Tracks such as Cerulea and Palm Full Of Crux course with feeling and subtle, poignant flourishes that betray a stunning level of musical and emotional maturity.

The album builds momentum spectacularly. Later tracks No Case Gain, The Requisition and album highlight Equus 3 are thrillingly full-bodied, and display as much textural and structural nuance as more prog rock-leaning Mars Volta outings.

The Mars Volta features both some of Rodríguez-López’s most restrained and successful songwriting, as well as Bixler-Zavala’s most moving vocal performances. It might not be exactly what you want from a Mars Volta album, but it’s among the most engrossing and creatively honest works of the duo’s careers.

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