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Life on Mars - Life On Mars I Review

by Dan Upton

If Tracey Blue and Linda Marso have cooked up anything reminiscent of actual life on Mars, those poor Martians have been getting a bad rap. Whereas they're constantly portrayed as being from a barren landscape (bah, what does NASA know) and either assaulting the planet or abducting and doing bad things to people and livestock, Life on Mars brings lush, colorful soundscapes and thoughtful lyrics.

Okay, sorry, that alien analogy was terrible.

The good news is that this disc is far better than my apparent literary skills. If you ever enjoyed 80s female-fronted rock, that is. There's a solid 80s vibe, heavy on piano and synth programming--some songs have more prominent rhythm guitar and the occasional solo, but the majority of the disc will surround you with piano melodies and thick synths. While the two main females are responsible for vocals, keyboards, and synths, a host of guest musicians provide instruments ranging from rock-standard drums, guitar, and bass, to cello, violin, flute, and french horn. Overall the music perhaps owes as much to Genesis as to Heart and Pat Benatar. Tracey's vocals are powerful, and even more so when backed up by Linda; it's a shame most of the lyrics seem to be about breakups, but at least they're well-written. The notable exception is "Nancy Dear," painting a bleak future of the aftermath of World War III, rampant extinction, and a question of "how long can our world survive?/with everything we keep doing wrong/how long til we see that it's over?"

The relatively repetitious lyrical matter is really the only thing I can complain about on this disc, and even to that end that it's wasted on breakup stories, since "Nancy Dear" shows an ability to write good songs that might be able to raise awareness about public issues. I guess it's all about what you want to do with your music, though. Such as it is, this is still an excellent CD to listen to purely for the combination of their music writing, synth programming, and the vocal harmonies. Check it out.

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