The colossal soundscape of Message from Garcia feels built for a rock opera. Its pop hooks funnel through walls of sparkly riffs and perfectly cued glam guitar solos. Frontwoman Rachel Flotard's clear vocals sometimes end in a wildly delightful Joan Jett "Ow!" And I'm not saying Flotard can be compared to Tina Turner exactly, but the strut and ease in which she delivers her songs evokes that monstrous confidence. Considering she's backed Neko Case on major albums, that makes sense.
The pairing of Heart's classic rock sensibilities fringed with country-styled steel guitar makes this release from the Seattle-based band a complex amalgam of intelligent design. It's smart because it's fun, but also shows range. Especially when you get to "So Long," which could almost be a lost song from Moulin Rouge.
Flotard's an incredible songwriter and a masterful musician, making Message to Garcia a pretty slick work. In fact, it breezes through with such gloss you wonder where the tension lies. I think it's in the lyrics, but it takes a little extra work to get past the fireworks and hear it.
Visqueen plays the Palace for KBGA's End-A-Thon Saturday, Feb. 13, at 9 PM with The Hood Internet, Black Velvet Elvis, the Shahs and Capricorn Vertical Slum. $5.