Frances the Mute

On both of its albums, The Mars Volta —El Paso natives and former At the Drive-In bandmates Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala—has trod the well-worn path of concept albums and rock opera. But if you’re picturing sequined capes and rotating stages, think again. In Frances the Mute (GSL), the pair have crafted an album that transcends prog-rock cliché. Supposedly based on a diary found by their late bandmate Jeremy Ward, the melancholy Frances has all but indecipherable lyrics that career from English to Spanish. While screeching guitars and John Bonham–like drums give way to seductive Latin rhythms and weird electronic interludes, singer Bixler-Zavala screams like a man possessed. A few spins later, you feel exactly the same way.

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