THE MARS VOLTA- Frances the Mute

If someone walks up to you painted orange, slaps you in the face with a fish, shouts 'I'm weird me' and sprints away they're pretty odd right? Or are they looking for all the attention they can get. What you want to watch out for is the only guy in the crowd who doesn't turn round to watch, what's going on in his head that's more interesting than watching you getting Tango'd? It's always the quiet ones remember.

And this is where I tell you that the new Mars Volta album is a masterpiece of salsa shake 'n' roll, too utterly concerned with itself to care what everyone else is doing. Except, and you know this already, nothing ever goes to plan, this album screams and shouts so loud for your attention in places that it's like watching a grown man piss and shit himself for fun rather than witnessing something truly beautiful.

Don't get me wrong, some of the music here recalls the genius of the first album. Instrumental voices open the album crashing together in an orchestra of deranged stop-start-stop death pop. The second track sounds like a haunted house ride through the afro's of the two men who made this mess and track seven is based around a stunning string section that sounds like a mutated James Bond theme while Cedric Bixler squeals about the worst day of his life. This is the stuff goosebumps are made of.

But, and it's a big but, too much of it meanders and slinks around sounding very sexy but never quite getting anywhere. The moments of pure joy at how good these guys can be are seperated by ineffective devil voices, bad trumpet solos, or a clock-watching jazz odyssey.

When The Mars Volta are good, they are very very good. There are movements here that in the most horribly cliched sense of the phrase, make you 'feel'. For the rest of the 75 minutes this album takes to run they shift from irritating brass-section white-noise to background music for crack pipe parties.

Then again, maybe i just don't get it. Maybe, I just don't do enough drugs.

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