Rx Bandits - Mandala
Orange County rock veterans RX Bandits released their sixth studio album, Mandala, recently. Often when a band reaches the six album total their best, most interesting work is long behind them.
What makes this new record from RX Bandits more intriguing than most is the dramatic line-up changes that have happened between their last album and this. The band has dropped their horn section, making this their first release as a standard four-piece. Of course that makes one wonder what effect it would have on their sound.
The answer at first is not positive. The opening pair of "My Lonesome Only Friend" and "It's Only Another Parsec..." see the band straddle the line between punk and rock with a sound that is eerily similar to mid-'90s Face To Face.
It seems like that's all the band needed to get that out of their system. After the opening pair of tracks the band settles into a mature, sophisticated sonic exploration. Standing in place of the horn section are the guitar and bass. Songs like "Mientras La Veo Senar", "March Of The Caterpiller" and "Burn It Down Low" feature funky noodling which ably stand in for the groove previously created by the horns.
Not all of the musical wanders work out. "Hope Is A Butterfly" is a schizophrenic speed up/slow down opus which looses the listener fairly quickly. While "Breakfast Cat"'s sweeping scope works, the album closer "Bring Our Children Home Or Everything Is Nothing" becomes self-indulgent by the end.
Everything on Mandala seems incredibly well thought out. The musicianship is impeccable. However that may be the album's greatest flaw; in all the efforts to break ground the songs seem to lack a spontaneity that would vanquish the sense of order that presides over much of the music.
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