There are many words you could use to describe Bosnian Rainbows. ‘Side project’, ‘supergroup’ or ‘concept band’ are just three, but the truth is that since the death of The Mars Volta, there has been a corner of the musical community that has been waiting to see what the new project from Omar Rodriguez Lopez was going to yield. This is it. There’s a certain amount of trepidation that comes with embarking on the first listen of an album from the man responsible for At The Drive In and the aforementioned progressive indie behemoths. Bosnian Rainbows are something of a supergroup (I’ve gone with that one) consisting of Rodriguez Lopez along with fellow The Mars Volta ex-member Deantoni Parks, Nicci Kasper and last, but certainly not least, La Butcherettes vocalist Teri Gender Bender. The resulting sound that precipitates from the meeting of these four minds is pretty intense. If you’re expecting a continuation of The Mars Volta, you’l need to modify your expectations. Bosnian Rainbows is a different beast altogether, but this isn’t to detract from the spectacularly visceral 11 tracks that make up their eponymous debut.
Opening track ‘Eli’ sets the tone for the album with it’s sinister synths and the powerful, stark vocals of Gender Bender. The intense build of the track is as arresting as it is pleasurable and serves as an apt introduction to the musical world of Bosnian Rainbows. It’s a world that caresses you with one hand before slapping you square in the face with the other. As the album progresses, songs like ‘Worthless’ and ‘The Eye Fell In Love’ show off a genuine tightness of collaboration and songwriting. It soon becomes clear that Bosnian Rainbows are capable of much more than the sum of their parts. The songs continue with a confidence that brings to the fore Rodriguez Lopes’s virtuoso guitar work, seamlessly interweaving between the synth strokes of Kasper and Park’s unwavering beats, elements particularly well displayed on the band’s latest single ‘Morning Sickness’. The decision to put the two previous singles ‘Torn Maps’ and ‘Turtle Neck’ together on the album is inspired. They work so well together, providing the poison and antidote to one another. It’s probably the reason why they were originally released in such quick succession.
Towards the end the album covers slightly more mellow ground. ‘Always On The Run’ and ‘Red’ seem to offer a more tentative, experimental perspective on Bosnian Rainbows’ sound which lends the music more than a little flavour of Siouxsie Sioux, helped in no small part by Gender Bender’s performance. Her vocal style has a controlled intensity that at times sounds like she’s channeling the spirit of 1970s Patti Smith. The album closer ‘Mother, Father, Set Us Free’ is truly a tour de force, emphasising the melodic visceral energy Bosnian Rainbows are capable of. This album may well be a departure from what some people might have expected from Rodriguez Lopez’s next project, but it’s certainly an album that will have no problem convincing any would-be naysayers that Bosnian Rainbows are a force to be reckoned with on their own terms.