The Mars Volta by The Mars Volta
By Emy Gladden | Top Tracks: Flash Burns From Flashbacks, Blank Condolences, Blacklight Shine
The Mars Volta broke up after the release and tour of their 2012 album Noctourniquet when leading members Cedric Bixter-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López had a falling out. A decade-long silence after this announcement seemed to spell the end for the legendary progressive rock band The Mars Volta. That was until June 21st, with the sudden release of the lead single “Blacklight Shine” and the announcement of a tour across the United States.
The decision to make a self-titled album may signal the band’s return to its new progressive pop form. It could also be referencing how this is their first full-length album to feature their original bassist, Eva Gardner, who had previously only played on the 2002 Tremulant EP. Just listening to The Mars Volta in comparison to Noctourniquet shows how dramatic the change from progressive rock to progressive pop actually is. Gone are the abrupt changes in time signature and the guitar riffs that would cause anyone’s hands to cramp. These have been replaced by relatively simple drum patterns and a subtler guitar. That’s not to say that it’s worse, but it can be jarring to longtime fans of the band who were expecting a sequel to 2012’s Noctourniquet or even 2005’s Frances The Mute.
What drives The Mars Volta is Eva Gardner’s bass work. The Mars Volta have always had great bassists, but the guitar’s subtleness on this album makes the bass stand out, and it’s fantastic. The bass is only complimented by the drums of the only new member Willy Rodriguez Quiñones. Even if the parts themselves aren’t as technically challenging as in the previous albums, it still has the soul that The Mars Volta is known for.
The Mars Volta hopefully signals a new beginning for the band it’s named after and that it won’t be another decade before their next album. Of course, it might be too early to say, but it seems like the progressive rock era of De-Loused in the Comatorium is over and that the progressive pop era of The Mars Volta has begun.