Album Review: The Mars Volta – The Mars Volta

By Adrian Woods, Contributor
[Clouds Hill; 2022]
Rating: 6/10

Key tracks: Blacklight Shine, Flash Burns From Flashbacks, No Case Gain

The Mars Volta have finally made their long awaited return with their seventh studio album, The Mars Volta. After the duo of Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala had broken up ten years ago, fans weren’t sure if the two would ever make music again. Evidently, they wanted to, and when The Mars Volta announced their newest single with an album to follow, fans were eagerly awaiting the release in September. 

Read more: Album Review: No Age – People Helping People

Right off the bat, the album kicks off with “Blacklight Shine”, which is by far the best song on the album and one of the best album openers of the year. The song has a mellow sounding funky Caribbean beat that is the mainstay sound of the album, which is one of its most bold aspects. When they get the sound right, they hit it right on the bullseye. “Cerulea”, “Flash Burns From Flashbacks”, and “No Case Gain” are all cuts from the back half of the album that use that funky Caribbean tone so well. They’re the type of songs that make you want to get up and dance. 

All of The Mars Volta’s albums sound different in their own right. For example, Deloused In the Comatorium has an art rock and post-hardcore sound to it, and Amputechture is more like progressive and experimental rock. This album is no different, and for a band to change the sound of their music on each album release is commendable and brave. This album would feel way less special if it did not have its own identity, or if it sounded like any other Mars Volta album.

A few issues I have with the album is that some of the songs on the record don’t seem to reach their full potential, killing the flow of the album. After the danceable and peppy “Blacklight Shine,” I feel that the three songs that follow it (“Graveyard Love”, “Shore Story” and “Blank Condolences”) step on the brakes and change the mood of the album completely. I find that when I listen to these songs, I am wishing for more upbeat versions to mesh better with the opener. Not that these tracks are the worst thing ears have conceived, far from it, but I feel that the album doesn’t get back on track until “Vigil,” which gives the album a needed adrenaline rush toward the end. 

Overall, the Mars Volta have definitely made better records, but this does not hurt their discography at all. This is a fun, easy to listen to album that grows Mars Volta’s resume as one of the most consistent duos in the music industry.

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