Rx Bandits
Mandala


4.5
superb

Review

by Ryan Flatley EMERITUS
July 20th, 2009 | 326 replies | 34,660 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hornless and open to explore, Mandala is everything Rx Bandits have worked for and more

FINALLY. Manadala might as well have been that huge gasp of air that Rx Bandits had been holding for years now. While the progressive transformation may have not been planned from their days as The Pharmaceutical Bandits, their eventual transformation has been patiently incredible. With each album, they moved from a young reggae-ska outfit into a developed, fully matured hybrid of different elements of progressive, ska, reggae, and rock. Ever since their dynamic album, The Resignation, it was clear as to their eventual final mold. With The Resignation we found eclectic tracks like “Mastering The List” and “Decrescendo” that branched out into a more progressive-rock charm that were, at the time and frankly still are, mindblowing. In fact, it was a prelude to their time spent journeying with the experimental-progressive supergroup The Sound of Animals Fighting where listeners found a rainbow of sound and ideas. From there, it was only a matter of time until they adapted this style that leant more towards a more sophisticated, nostalgic sound.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, their last horn member, Chris Sheets, left the band, leaving Rx Bandits free to write their songs without catering to any hornline. In a recent interview with The Decider [1], Matt Embree stated that in the past they would essentially ‘water down’ their music for accompanying hornlines. With this dismissal, it left room for “Breakfast Cat” and “Bring Our Children Home Or Everything Is Nothing” to explore their full potential, as with most of Mandala. Flushed with poly-rhythms galore and a dance-happy rhythm section, they are two staples of an album filled with memorable moments. Just like the salsa-turned-power chord break during the guitar-happy, “Bled To Be Free (The Operation).” And with three lone songs, the Rx Bandits show their merit and capabilities that felt held back with …And The Battle Begun.

Before the Rx Bandits seem totally transcribed into a more technical band, Embree still finds room for his most formidable vocal hooks and harmonies. With that, it is abundantly clear as to their incredibly accessible blend of heavy and pop elements, all while finding room for their pertinent jam sections. But Mandala is not all frantic and rehashed from the original Rx Bandits sound. “Bury It Down Low” and “White Lies” plays off with this serene reggae vibe, never outdoing its own dynamic or attempting to crescendo into some epic finale, recalling the finer moments of their past work like “Analog Boy” and “Overcome (The Recapitulation).” Similarly, “March Of The Caterpillar” softly noodles among ‘do-do-do-dos’ in a rather somber, emotional track that’s perfectly centered within the album's girth. Balance seamlessly defines this album, even though some may feel the start and finish to the album to be rather bloated due to the heavy nature of each respective section. But Mandala is the live concert playing in your headphones or through your speakers, setting up for the eventual closer, but giving you time to breathe and soak each second of passionate songwriting.

What gleams most about Mandala is the exuded confidence of how enjoyable this album was for Rx Bandits. At first, it felt rather dry as Mandala’s midsection barely left an impression, but that was before the intricacies of their pop-prowess took everything a step forward. This album is enthralling, and most of all, downright pleasurable. At the end of the day, Mandala has a few missteps as far as in-song transitions are concerned, but overall, arguably their best work to date. It will be interesting as to what direction Rx Bandits will move towards next, but right now I’ll have the waning moments of "Bring Our Children Home or Everything is Nothing" looping; because moments like that chunk come few and far between, as do albums like Mandala.

[1] http://austin.decider.com/articles/rx-bandits-matt-embree,30239/



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4.1
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Shrapnel94
July 20th 2009



2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. Still need to give a full listen, but from what Ive heard its amazing.

gaslightanthem
July 20th 2009



5209 Comments


why is it such a trend for staff to not review anything for like 2/3/4 weeks [minus willie] and then all post a review at the same time

kingsoby1
Emeritus
July 20th 2009



4833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it's pretty good, but i have a hard time paying attention all the way through.

yeah we all take breaks at the same time it seems.

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
July 20th 2009



4925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

honestly, I have been reviewing solely based on release date, and last week was uneventful

kingsoby1
Emeritus
July 20th 2009



4833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, i missed the cage release date, but there really hasn't been anything that interested me since.

gaslightanthem
July 20th 2009



5209 Comments


yeah we all take breaks at the same time it seems.



COINCIDENCE OR CONSPIRACY

good review, rx bandits grew off me so

backinhindsight
July 20th 2009



198 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think its a cop-out that he said they had to water down their music for a horn line. Kalnoky is able to make amazing music that is in no way watered down with horns

handoman
July 20th 2009



2380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

so good

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
July 20th 2009



4925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think its a cop-out that he said they had to water down their music for a horn line. Kalnoky is able to make amazing music that is in no way watered down with horns

yeah, but Kalnoky is a pure 3rd-wave ska band, while Embree is going in a completely different direction. But in the same regard, whenever there is a removal of what becomes a foreign instrument, bands have a easier time writing music and are free to not cater to that instrument. Just look at Murder By Death after their pianist left.

Taxt
July 20th 2009



584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, great album.
This is in my top 3 of 2009 so far, and I'm pretty confident it will still be in the top 3 come December.

BallsToTheWall
July 20th 2009



44164 Comments


Solid artwork.

shindip
July 20th 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really really want this.

Shrapnel94
July 20th 2009



2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The artwork probably beats Octahedron at the "most interesting" contest

ant4tbc
July 20th 2009



373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is soooooo good.

tarethere
July 21st 2009



184 Comments


4.5 is high

Prodigal
July 21st 2009



47 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Its blasphemy that you didn't mention Mientras la Veo Soñar. That song wreaks of style.

poweroftheweez
July 21st 2009



1289 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

aoty.

OllieS
July 21st 2009



2024 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review. I found a couple small problems however: you didn't consistently italicise 'Mandala', you spelt 'supergroup' wrong and didn't put an apostrophe when you said "albums girth" (also girth was pretty lol).

I think I'm gonna check out The Sound Of Animals Fighting over this.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
July 21st 2009



4925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

with the lack of italicize, for any review I choose to italicize it the first time and first time only

MaskAtTheMasquerade
July 21st 2009



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review, glad to say I wasn't disappointed one bit with this album. I went to an acoustic in-store show before the show at
Club Firestone. Both were amazing, but the Orlando Firestone show was one of the best I've ever been to. Happy to see they're
sticking with the progressive side.



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