Mars Volta vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala is a good dancer, and there’s plenty of Robert Plant in his vocal delivery. I like that. Both Cedric and, to stretch the metaphor, his Jimmy Page-esque guitarist counterpart, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, have big round hair. I guess mentioning the hair is getting old hat, though, so I’ll just go on to say that The Mars Volta is currently on tour to support their spacey, prog punk, salsa epic Frances The Mute, which I’ve read is all about death. It’s 77 minutes long and has five songs on it.
Cedric writes the songs, and I have it on good authority that they make sense if you know what they’re about before you start listening. I don’t, though, so I guess that’s why I’m still in the dark. I’ve read that the writing’s very emo, and that makes me feel a bit like a dull-eyed adult, since I have no real sense of what exactly that means. Rock music, it seems to me, essentially stems from the romantic tradition, and is pretty well stocked with “emo” even if you don’t give it a special name or have an affected hairstyle.
In the case of the Mars Volta, I think it just means that words will be strung together with no aim whatsoever at linear coherence. I’m only speculating when I say that perhaps it aims to be imagistic and emotional in a way that contraindicates clarity.
Last night at The Greek Theater in Hollywood, the Mars Volta played loads of music, and Cedric sang words. He also had some very stylin’ dance moves. It was undeniably good by some standard, if only because it’s nice to recall the vocal stylings of Robert Plant, and everyone there was real good at playing their instruments.
I had a fairly good seat, but I wasn’t within range of seeing the whites of their eyes. Overall, I had the feeling that if I were tripping really hard, or engaged in a concert-long, achingly hot make-out session with a super hot guy who didn’t speak any English, but really knew how to use his tongue, I might have enjoyed it more.
As it was, I felt it wandered a bit.