The Mars Volta is No. 9 on the Modern Rock chart with "The Widow," a powerful, melodic three-minute tune that is the most mainstream song the band has yet written. (That's Flea on trumpet, by the way.

The Mars Volta is No. 9 on the Modern Rock chart with "The Widow," a powerful, melodic three-minute tune that is the most mainstream song the band has yet written. (That's Flea on trumpet, by the way.) Fans that pick up "Frances the Mute" expecting more of the same will be either disappointed and confused or completely blown away by the band's second full-length. Their reaction will depend on what they think of the following: prog rock, Santana, Mr. Bungle and the Buena Vista Social Club. The sextet combines all of those influences and more on "Frances," with "The Widow" being the only track on the five-song set to clock in at less than 12 minutes. The 77-minute-long "Frances" unfolds upon multiple listens, sometimes threatening to collapse under its own pretensions (meandering musical passages, sound effects), but ultimately, it is an ambitious and rewarding album.—BT