The Mars Volta – Octahedron The Mars Volta – Octahedron

The Mars Volta - Octahedron

The Mars Volta - Octahedron

The Mars Volta’s fifth studio album sees the modern prog rockers sadly devoid of any creativity or new ideas. Described by the band themselves as their “poppy” album, TMV seem to have written eight songs that desperately attempt to hark back to former glories. I should make myself clear from the outset – I’m a De- Loused fanboy, shamelessly, and as far as I’m concerned the volta have taken a sharp downturn ever since. So upon hearing the news that Octahedron was going to steer away from previous notions of fret wankery, I thought it sounded like good news. Octahedron, as it seems, is full of songs that TMV could have cracked out in half an hour.
But first, some good points. This album is more pop than previous efforts in so much as the vocals have “Improved”. It’s all a lot clearer, there are a lot more words that actually exist, (See: “Manupod” from “Televators”) and is a welcome U- turn from the harsh latino bellowing from the likes of The Bedlam In Goliath. But even at that, they’ve improved in the sense that, they’re not as bad as other albums. If you listen to De-Loused, they’re practically the same. The vocal style seems to have reverted to their most successful album, which is a good idea in theory, but you need some good songs for them to go over.
Octapolygon as previously mentioned, really doesn’t sound like it took much effort on the band’s part. “Since We’ve Been Wrong” is an abrupt change in direction, and not necessarily a bad one. It’s still slightly contrived, though, and has a certain eau de Kelly Clarkson about it, compared to the Hispanic musk of previous works. “Televators”, a song from De- Loused which I’ve already mentioned, really does shadow over this album, as it appears they’ve simply tried to re-create it, several times. “With Twilight As My Guide” is a prime example, but the album in general gives off the same acoustic meandering vibe. And frustratingly, every song seems to be held together by the same generic wishy washy “ambience”. It sounds like the mating call of a whale…..I imagine.
“Cotopaxi” is the only song that you’ll probably notice, on volume alone. I would say it sounds like a leftover from Bedlam, but I’m trying to qualify my score to the right, not make it seem over generous. In all seriousness and all puns on this albums baffling name aside, there is nothing on this album that TMV haven’t done before, and in no way does this sound like much effort was made on their part.
DJ Shadow is an artist who had a successful debut album (Bear with me). In 2006, he released The Outsider, which received a mixed reception from fans due to its change in musical direction. Responding to criticism, Shadow said, “Repeat Endtroducing over and over again? That was never, ever in the game plan. Fuck that. So I think it’s time for certain fans to decide if they are fans of the album, or the artist.”
Indeed, Shadow. Indeed.

1. “Since We’ve Been Wrong” 7:20
2. “Teflon” 5:04
3. “Halo of Nembutals” 5:30
4. “With Twilight as My Guide” 7:52
5. “Cotopaxi” 3:38
6. “Desperate Graves” 4:56
7. “Copernicus” 7:22
8. “Luciforms” 8:21

The Mars Volta - Octahedron, reviewed by Lemon on 2009-06-16T09:00:14-07:00 rating 2.2 out of 5

3 Responses about “The Mars Volta – Octahedron”

  • carl p says:

    you sound like all guys that only liked deloused. dj shadow would say you’re a fan of the album.

  • Ben says:

    @ Carl. I saw TMV maybe 5 or 6 times during the Tremulant EP and De-Loused. I am also a huge At The Drive In fan.

    So when you say that I’m not a fan of anything passed De-Loused I would agree with you. Does that mean I’m not a TMV fan? I’ll leave it up to you. Either way there are plenty of artists who release amazing albums and then change their style. I don’t know why being a fan of an album would be a bad thing.

  • Lemon says:

    @Carl. Yes, I did only like De-Loused. As I said. And I am only a fan of that album. Hence the DJ Shadow quote about only appreciating certain albums.

    There’s nothing wrong in my opinion with being a fan of only one album, particularly if the latest is utter shite.