06/10/2014

Deserter's Songs

Mercury Rev
1998

I remember this album being released. It was well and widely reviewed in the many music publications I read at the time (Q, Select, Vox and Muddly Mucker) but for some reason, although I got as far as purchasing and enjoying the singles "Opus 40" and "Goddess On A Hiway", I never bought the album until this year. I haven't even heard it before.

Still, apparently this hasn't prevented me from forming preconceptions about how it would sound, since my overriding feeling is that it isn't what I was expecting. The track that comes the closest is "The Funny Bird", an epic-sounding roller-coaster with some nicely squalling lead guitar.

Much of the rest is a little fey and wan by comparison. Not that, after several listens, it doesn't have its appeal. "Pick Up If You're There" is a lovely, ethereal instrumental. "Tonite It Shows" steals sweetly and shamelessly (and without credit) from "Hushabye Mountain" (from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). "Hudson Line" is cute, mainly remarkable for featuring Garth Hudson himself!

Overall, though, I had expected something with a little more substance. Perhaps, given the well-known connection between Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips, I thought we would get something as well-rounded, powerful and imaginative as Lips albums Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots or At War With The Mystics - although that said, it does seem fair to point out that, if it's hard to slip a cigarette paper between the two bands, Mercury Rev got there first.

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