From the eloquent post-hardcore of At The Drive-In to the epic prog of The Mars Volta, the fertile musical partnership of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala has been a beautifully unpredictable thing. With both of those bands done and dusted, they return with Antemasque, and they’ve pulled the rug out from under us again by creating songs so instantly accessible, by their standards it’s almost pop.
Of course, it’s all relative, and there are still more smart side-steps here than many bands manage in a lifetime, from the Tex-Mex western of Ride Like The Devil’s Son to the twitchy punk of In The Lurch. 50,000 Kilowatts, meanwhile, is so damn catchy it’s as if the band were taken over by the spirit of Tom Petty. We never saw that coming.
Cedric’s vocals have evolved, so that, while the frantic wail of old remains, a new gruff edge creeps in, and Omar’s guitar work remains sublime, trimmed here of any fat and unnecessary embellishments in order to shine in a more post-punk context. It might be a new direction, but they’re the only ones traveling its course, and they’ve once again presented us with something wonderfully unique./o:p