Rx Bandits - Mandala (Cover Artwork)

Rx Bandits

Rx Bandits: MandalaMandala (2009)
Sargent House

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The progression Rx Bandits have gone through leading to their sixth full-length, Mandala, has been so intricate and progressive-rock-based that it's basically a far, far fetch to maintain that the band plays ska-punk of any variety now. The band has entirely dismissed their ever-dwindling brass sect.
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The progression Rx Bandits have gone through leading to their sixth full-length, Mandala, has been so intricate and progressive-rock-based that it's basically a far, far fetch to maintain that the band plays ska-punk of any variety now. The band has entirely dismissed their ever-dwindling brass section, and there is nary an upstroke to be found on the album. But that cannot be a valid criticism of Mandala. What could be a criticism is that it's unfortunately vacant of the powerful dynamism and smart hooks that have littered the band's last few albums. While Mandala bears enough nuances and jarring direction changes to warrant interest, it does seem to lean on the oodles and noodles of prog-nodding riffs as more of a crutch and less a complement, and when it doesn't, the band's bite and bark seem weakened.

Mandala further warrants comparisons to the Mars Volta that have sprouted up in recent years, thanks to the more exploratory vocal range, flittering synth layers and sharp, angular guitars jilting about in an energetic but compact prog-rocker like "It's Only Another Parsec...". In addition, that sure sounds like some Spanish singing in the nearly seven-minute "Mientras la Veo SoƱar" too, which kicks it for an extended conclusion with spacey guitar effects, organ-esque fiddling and steady shakers; six-minute closer "Bring Our Children Home" has plenty of spastic wankery in its finish, too.

The songs are certainly interesting and hyperactive in a sort of paradoxically restrained manner, though one wishes vocalist/guitarist Matt Embree's voice was more prominent at points; he really seems to take a backseat to the music for most of Mandala, whereas the band managed to strike a wonderful balance on elder material like "Never Slept So Soundly" or the subtle movements of "VCG3." His whispery performance in "March of the Caterpillar" is pretty notable, though, especially with the emblematic frontman's typically in-depth look at the interpersonalities of tightly-knit relationships ("Here's to look the other way, and say your first love, well, she was just someone to waste your life with").

Mandala is a complex album, no doubt, but with a further magnification on trying to string together all the band's detailed talents in new, less genre-addled fashions, it's damaged their overall complexion. While this is a good listen, it just doesn't have the same power or attack the Rx Bandits have managed to retain through their decade-plus and otherwise storied career.



People who liked this also liked:
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundRx Bandits - ...And the Battle BegunThursday - Common ExistenceNOFX - The DeclineThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimFake Problems - It's Great to Be AliveAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegePropagandhi - Supporting Caste

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Levendus (August 18, 2010)

I agree 100 % with this review. Couldn't have said it better myself (literally, I'm not clever enough)

Adamobs2400 (October 20, 2009)

Agree to Disagree Brian.

I think this album is unbelievable. The hooks are there in every song. I don't understand the "RX tried to take it too prog aspect because the album is full of memorable vocal melodies (in my opinion.)

I understand the comparison to the mars volta but TMV take their prog vision into a pretentious irritating look at this solo (which isn't that good) way that become annoying (especially with 17 minutes etc.) RX isn't like that at all.

I really can't imagine thinking the Resignation is better than this and that was my favorite album growing up. It's an incredible album but Mandala is so much more mature and has no remnants of the pop-punk that still existed on those older albums.

For people that think Progress is better than Mandala or ATTB, I give up.

But seriously, fuckin bad ass album.

realfakepunker (October 20, 2009)

give it up with the entire "this record must have gone over your head" rx fell short believe it. it happend. ive stood by them since the start and well honestly this record is just lacking something. the songs are decent but just missing that special something. ATBB is fucking stellar this not so much

hayman (October 18, 2009)

This album is awesome, RX just keep getting better. Looking forward to seeing them live at Soundwave next year. Good times.

telegraphrocks (October 18, 2009)

I just want to know one thing 'yall... ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!?!?!?!?! OOO-OOO-OO!!!"

deadxlast (October 18, 2009)

I agree with SydBarret420, actually.

imageryandsound (October 18, 2009)

i can't even score this yet because it continues to get better with each listen. too soon to say- but i love it. I love how YES it is, and i think you dudes are too quick to judge an album that went over your heads! rx will never let us down- and their real fans don't wanna hear the resignation over and over anyway. talented fuckin dudes

ksupilot (October 17, 2009)

Album of the year so far for me.

Wesley_Snipes (October 17, 2009)

STOP comparing The Resignation with this !

STOP comparing The Mars Volta with this !

Score is for you, yeah YOU !

allbutone (October 17, 2009)

not to nitpick the review, but there are upstrokes on the first song.

nickdiesel (October 17, 2009)

Pretty good album..not as good as ATBB. Review is pretty good but man...there are some KILLER songs/moments on this CD and you didn't give ups to any of them! Lonesome Only Friend, Mientras, Operation, Bring Our Children Home..

____Win_Win_Situation____ (October 17, 2009)

this band is so 2001 and i never even heard them but i remember seeing kids wearing their shirts

MeeSTa3k (October 17, 2009)

This band was at their best when they combined groovy ska and reggae with hook-heavy pop-punk and a healthy exploration of form. Progress and The Resignation each offered two different blends, with the prog elements being absent before them and the enjoyable music being mostly absent after. It's a shame they decided to keep going down this road.

dyingchildten (October 17, 2009)

Everyone on this sight is fucking retarded

damnitsderek (October 17, 2009)

"The March of the Caterpillar" and "It's Only Another Parsec..." are incredible songs, but the rest of this album just doesn't hang on with me. Maybe it's because I miss the brass. As a whole, it just doesn't do it for me like Progress or The Resignation, or even And The Battle Begun.

SydBarrett420 (October 17, 2009)

I don't know how anyone can say with a straight face that Resignation and Progress are better albums than ATBB or Mandala.

I get the impression that the later Bandits albums have gone over the heads of a lot of the posters here.

Also, this sounds nothing like Mars Volta

NewKid (October 16, 2009)

The Resignation will always be the best album. And The Battle Begun a close second. Great review, my sentiments exactly.


DarrenMcLeod (October 16, 2009)

I don't think it's anywhere near And The Battle Begun - which I think is their best and simply a fantastic record - and sometimes the noodling and whatnot gets on my nerves. Still, there are some pretty amazing moments on this disc, especially Bring Our Children Home.

i-type-poorly (October 16, 2009)

This is a really good album, that could have been great if they still had the horn section. They gave the albums that little bit of diversity to stay exciting and fresh the whole way through. There are some low points on the album with too much whailing on the guitars (Hearts The Hanker, Breakfast Cat) that make it sound a bit samey.

Other than that, this album is more standard Rx ass kicking. I love it.

chadreligion (October 16, 2009)

I used to think this band was quite innovative and stood out far from the bullshit it spawned from ala-Drive-Thru Records, but showed alot of potential with strange and compelling arrangements to the songs, especially with the horns.
Now, i just think they are annoying, Cool guys though.

defianceohioequalslove (October 16, 2009)

I want to start by saying that "The Resignation" is one of my all-time favorite cds. In my opinion it's a 10/10, 5 star cd. Thus, the respect I have for this band really is beyond words.

With that said, it just feels like there's no life to this cd, and it really doesn't surprise me very much. With "...ATBB", I could feel that they were going in this direction - more guitar wankery; more spacey sounds; less song structure - and a true departure from the 'rock' that made "The Resignation" so amazing.

Skaboom put it well with "There's no enthusiasm behind the songs."

So disapointing, but hey, at least their live show still kicks massive amounts of ass...

spoon_of_grimbo (October 16, 2009)

it took me ages to get into it, but this album really rewards repeated listens. "mientras la veo sonar" "lonesome only friend" "bury it down low" "breakfast cat" "bled to be free" and "bring our children home..." are some of the best they've done IMO.

ryanky (October 16, 2009)

I don't get the hate for this album. i think it's pretty sweet and fun to listen to. and the "Hope is a Butterfly....." jam is one of my favorites of the year

Fresnoska (October 16, 2009)

I was able to get behind the last one, though my love for RxB started dying after Progress. This one, I just can't do it. The loss of horns (one horn) didn't help....

domotime (October 16, 2009)

I feel like i get made fun of for not liking this album, but just because they try so hard to be complex, spacey, and unique, doesnt make the songs automatically listenable. I had such a hard time finishing each song because I knew these songs weren't going anywhere, I can't find any song to really sing along too, and I know that my love for RX Bandits has dwindled to nothing.

It's not a dissapointing album at least....this was the trend RX bandits was going in.

skaboom (October 16, 2009)

It's just not good.

There's no enthusiasm behind the songs. One track of noodly guitars that never go anywhere is followed by another track of noodly guitars that never go anywhere. The lyrics are abstract, and not in a metaphorical sense, they just don't mean anything. There are no riffs, no hooks, nothing that I could imagine anyone would want to sing along to at a show.

I was hoping that after And The Battle Begun, RXB would have all that out of their system and write The Resignation Pt 2. Seems they've only expanded upon their faults.

telegraphrocks (October 16, 2009)

Vomit Ass-Water = Mandala

paulrulzdood (October 16, 2009)

can't get into this album at all and I agree with the review whole-heartedly.


eazyd2 (October 16, 2009)

are you kidding me>? you are obviusoylt a fuckin retard this is by FAR their best album also their mist accessible . this is THE BET ALGUM of 2009 if you got any taste then as they say in india GET IN INDIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

TheMarc (October 16, 2009)

Agree with the score, but man there are some serious stand out jams on here.

punker001 (October 16, 2009)

I think the first song on this album is one of the best songs ever written, pity the rest of the album doesn't live up to it!

friokir (October 16, 2009)

one of your best reviews recently. good job. and I'm really sad, because "progress" and "the resignation" were awesome and everything after that isn't =(.

american_666_jesus (October 16, 2009)

I think is their best album yet. They've taken everything that was great about And the Battle Began and gone one step further with it. This is one of my favorites from 2009.

ryan27 (October 16, 2009)

couldn't disagree with you more, my friend. one of my favorites of the year.

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