Frances the Mute is the second studio album by progressive rock band The Mars Volta released in the US on March 1, 2005. The album's lyrics often jump from Spanish to English. It displays a deep jazz influence while infusing Latin flavor into many songs. Originally to be titled Sarcophagus., Frances the Mute sold 123,000 copies in its opening week and has sold 465,000 copies as of September 2006. The album made multiple "Best of" lists at the end of 2005.
In December 2004, a full copy of Frances the Mute was leaked to the Internet from the vinyl version. The rip was of poor quality. Encoded as a 96 kbit/s MP3, other versions were reencoded to 192 kbit/s WMA from the source mp3, resulting in even worse audio quality. Gold Standard Laboratories issued a statement decrying the Internet release for its subpar sound quality, and suggesting that fans should respect the band's request not to share the leaked music.
The first single, "The Widow", was released in early 2005 and the album Frances the Mute was released on midnight, March 1, 2005, and sold over 100,000 copies within the first week of release, and debuted at number four on the Billboard Album Charts. The title track, "Frances the Mute", which is purportedly meant to be track one on the album and, according to the band, "decodes" the album's story, was not included in the album, and was released on March 14th, 2005, in the United Kingdom. This release was a three set limited edition, containing a single with a live version of "The Widow", played at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on June 13th, and the unreleased title song "Frances the Mute." Also in the collection is a DVD that includes clips from their performance at the Electric Ballroom in London on July 9th, 2003, "The Widow" music video, and the "Televators" music video. Finally, the last item was a 12" single pressed on marble green vinyl including "Frances The Mute" and a live version of "The Widow", released by Gold Standard Labs. Only approximately 10,000 were pressed.
A second single from the album, "L'Via L'Viaquez" was released in June of 2005. Included on this single there was another unreleased song entitled "The Bible and the Breathalyzer".
Frances The Mute debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and has sold nearly 465,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album was the band's career best at No. 4 until their fourth album The Bedlam in Goliath came out almost 3 years later on the Billboard 200 at No. 3.
Another distinct aspect of Frances the Mute is that the songs often move through several rather different stages. For example, "Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus" begins quietly with a lone acoustic guitar eventually joined by Cedric Bixler-Zavala softly singing. The song then turns into something resembling a chaotic hybrid of funk and metal, with Bixler-Zavala singing some of the lyrics in Spanish. Following this stage of the song, it shifts yet again, this time into a rhythm in 29/16 accompanied by a guitar solo. This stage builds to a crescendo of jazz fusion, followed by a jam in 10/8. The song ends with a barrage of ambient noise and strange sound effects.
On vinyl, "Cassandra Gemini" was split among two sides, in the middle of "Faminepulse". Each side except the final side of the vinyl ends with a locked groove, repeating either a sound effect or a bar of music endlessly until the needle is lifted. The third side, containing "Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore", opens by repeating the 30 seconds of coquí noises that conclude "L'Via L'Viaquez"; this small portion is indexed separately from "Miranda".
Finalized track listing
Japanese bonus DVD
Best Buy ExclusiveThe Best Buy version of the album included a download card for one bonus track:
|2005||European Top 100 Albums||-|
|2005||The Billboard 200||4|
|2005||Top Canadian Albums||6|
|2005||Top Internet Albums||4|
|2005||UK Albums Chart||23|
|2005||Norway Albums Chart||1|
|2005||ARIA Album Chart (Australia)||9|
|2005||Austrian Album Chart||43|
|2005||"The Widow"||European Hot 100 Singles||-|
|2005||"The Widow"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||26|
|2005||"The Widow"||Modern Rock Tracks||7|
|2005||"The Widow"||The Billboard Hot 100||95|
|2005||"The Widow"||UK Singles Chart||20|