Sat 29th March 2014
Listening to Stranded in Arcadia for review is my first experience of Mars Red Sky. This being their second album, and with splits and EPs available also, it appears I've got some catching up to do. This is a highly likeable stoner rock album that sounds fresh and different within a genre even the staunchest defender (eg me) admits has been paddling in stale waters of late.
What Mars Red Sky do well is mix each track to evade simple categorisation - too trippy to be simply staid stoner rock, heavy riffs allayed to the deepest psych moments stopping it wilting, doom flecks propping up the poppy lightness. The opening The Light Beyond showcases this from the off, a heaviness of undercurrent boldening the track around the trippy vocals. Here and common through the album, synth effects create a floaty atmosphere of an ill-advised drug-enduced skinny dip midnight swim.
There are lighter moments, the pop sensibilities of, say, The Atomic Bitchwax evident in the middle section of Holy Mondays, without ever really sounding like them. Circles perfects it, a fuzzy stoner stomp with breezy pop brilliance. It's not all great, with some duff moments, and I can't even tell whether I like Seen a Ghost or not with it's oddball 'Torche seduced into becoming an indie-stoner band' weirdness.
Still, on the whole, this is for the majority a breath of fresh air within stoner rock, the French trio delivering a welcome tonic to those who say the scene has died and moved on, and more pertinently to a genre needing this kind of passion, invention and good tunes. Great stuff.