Frances The Mute

Album Title: Mars Volta
Release Date: March 1, 2005
Genre: Alternative
There shouldn't be a person on earth who buys The Mars Volta's latest without knowing what they're getting into - but you already knew that. Definitely not the type of album a person randomly picks up for a friend's birthday, Frances The Mute is a project that calls for all or nothing from the listener. In a sentence: It's not a mere background noise album.

Samples from goodness knows what mutilated instruments flicker and pulse. Lyrics flip-flop between Spanish and English, making the unlucky monolingual listener do a double take when they lose grasp on the plot and completely fall off the conveyor. Two Chili Peppers guest on Frances, most notably John Frusciante, who provides the blistering guitar intro on "L'Via I'Viaquez", effectively reining the album to earth and connecting it to the banal rock world (which is only banal when compared to whatever it is that The Mars Volta does).

Frances The Mute is 82.4% pretension, but so is every other prog album, so that should really come as no surprise. Believing people want to hear a two minute fill that features only something that sounds like a squeaky doorknob is pretension; so is a 77-minute long song. It just is what it is, and it's nothing to get offended over. The Mars Volta are self-important, and that's what makes their music so great: it's intense, it's meticulous, and it's to the brim with artistic pride of the highest order.

Writer: Jaclyn Arndt

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