Review Summary: Mars Red Sky step up the fuzz for a joyous bout of psychedelic rock.
Managing to stand out in the stoner/psychedelic rock crowd is an impressive feat, with all the legions of Hawkwind
and Pink Floyd
rip-offs out there. This is precisely how Mars Red Sky managed to make a splash with their self-titled debut, having clearly spent hours perfecting a unique guitar tone and utilising Julien Pras' high-range tenor (reminiscent of Tame Impala
's Kevin Parker), whose vocals gave the band an unusual indie-rock flair.
Whereas the debut flitted between heavy bursts of distortion and slow ethereal passages, for their sophomore effort the band have stepped up the fuzz, dropping most of their indie leanings for an album of colossal sound and heaviness from the outset of 8-minute opener The Light Beyond
. Possibly the album's highlight, the track showcases the best of the band's development in making infectious grooves and how they have developed as musicians, Matgaz's swirling drum patterns creating intensity and scale to Jimmy Kinast's extremely prominent wall of bass and Pras' psychedelic wah-wah guitar lines.
Other stand-outs are Hovering Satellites
, delivering a similar kind of show with vocals excellently contrasting heaviness and an epic build of a second half, plus Holy Mondays
, the chorus of which you'll have stuck in your head for days. The latter song is valuable for the rare variety it brings to the album, featuring a morphing structure that moves from a calm intro to a main riff that comes very close to ripping off Woman
by Wolfmother, saved by that particularly poppy chorus that bounces over it.
Evidently, variation is something Stranded In Arcadia lacks and is in fact its greatest downfall. After the blistering instrumental centrepiece Arcadia
which feels as if it sums up all the themes found in the first half of the album - psychedelic guitar lines, insanely fuzzy bass and all - the band simply throw more of the same at us. While Circles
and Seen A Ghost
are great as standalone tracks, it's hard not to feel an element of laziness, with the main riff in that second track eventually becoming irritating, sounding like every single
other riff on the album.
Outro song Beyond the Light
tops this off with a statement of how much better it could have been, and how much potential Mars Red Sky possess. The swirling 'wind' effect, mesmerizing gentle bassline and return of the album's opening guitar melody, slowly fading out, is a mastery of atmosphere hinted at in many slower points of the album, yet lost in the endless fuzziness.
Should the band apply themselves and expand their musical palette, there is no reason why this album can't be the stepping stone that I thought their debut would be to a masterpiece of psychedelic rock, or Mars Red Sky are in danger of becoming Stranded