The Mars Volta Amputechture

It pains me to say this, but after two records of interesting genre-busting post-punk and prog rock noodling, I think the Mars Volta have really done about all they can do in a studio setting. Their meandering third album is more of the same Hispanic-flavoured old school blues rock meets free-form jams with some odd time signatures thrown in as well as a grab-bag of screeching freak-out vocals and spacey sound effects. It’s the kind of routine that works best in a live setting where the absence of "songs” can more easily be forgiven (and one only need listen to their recent live disc Scabdates or poach any of the bundle of band-sanctioned bootleg recordings available on the net for proof of this). But on record and without the aide of mind-altering substances, the Latino Zeppelin routine grows tedious a little too quickly. Understand, this is not a bad record, just a little too familiar and unfocussed. (Universal)