By now you know what you're getting from the Mars Volta: super-pretentious musical oscillations, Cedric Bixler-Zavala's haunted-house shrieks, ridiculous album titles, and another reminder that the remnants of one of the '90s' most exciting punk bands (At the Drive In) has turned into an unbearable musical jigsaw puzzle. Only one of the songs on their sixth album exceeds seven minutes. But the group unwittingly buries the best parts of Noctourniquet: the jagged synth vacuum of "The Whip Hand," "Lapochka"'s southern-rap hi-hat stutter, and the White Stripes-like riff that drives "The Malkin Jewel." Bixler-Zavala has never been a very compelling singer, and he sounds bored here. Despite titles like "Dyslexicon," he hasn't developed a sense of humor either. — Dan Weiss
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