Frances the Mute 

The Mars Volta toes a thin line between intriguing storytelling and overwhelming absurdity with this 77-minute monstrosity of a concept album. Revolving around “abandonment and addiction” abstracts (direct from singer Cedric Bixler), this is a fractured, convoluted yarn with almost poetic references to rape, child abuse, drugs, regret, murder, evisceration and family loyalty. Sure, the first half of “The Widow” sounds crisp on the radio wedged between Audioslave and Breaking Benjamin, but the rest sounds like the entire “international” section of a music store tossed into a blender with Led Zeppelin, Yes and King Crimson. The 30-minute-plus “Cassandra Geminni” truly is the song that doesn’t end, but creeper “Miranda That Ghost Just Isn’t Holy Anymore” unwinds into a splendidly morbid coda. Lyrics are graphically descriptive while remaining vague to the album’s dysfunctional family-based themes, and the music sprawls like free-form electric jazz. The end result is a jagged mess of haunting atmospheric sequences welded to panic-stricken musical movements, all led by Bixler’s shrill wailing. Is it brilliant, or just overindulgent? Start at “difficult” and take it from there.

Gary Blackwell writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

Tags: ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Gary Blackwell

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation