Mercury Rev – All Is Dream
Mercury Rev have been around since the late Eighties and have released 4 full-length studio albums to date. Their latest record – The Secret Migration
has just come out.
Their music is difficult to describe – it contains elements of the finest indie rock carefully meshed with pop perfection. Jack Bishop calls them ‘Not so much a band as a sweet odyssey to the centre of the heart’, and whilst that may be exaggerated promo, it does hint at the band’s sound, as well as their style.
With more line-up changes than your average band, Mercury Rev have a constantly changing and growing sound that is a delight to chart for any fan. All Is Dream
is their fourth album, and is such has diminished from the original spontaneity and chaos of their earlier recordings, but has made up for it in production and song-writing prowess.
Jonathan Donahue – Vocals, guitar
Grasshopper - Guitar
Adam Snyder – Keyboards
Jeff Mercel – Drums
All Is Dream
gets off to a stupendous start with the ridiculously beautiful and emotive song The Dark Is Rising
. Soaring violins burst out in the opening seconds to give way to a much calmer song that deserves to be a modern classic. Donahue’s vocals may be high and sometimes irritatingly effeminate, but here they’re pop perfection as he tiptoes his way around some wonderfully thoughtful lyrics. This song alone convinced me that I had to have this album.
Of course, some sort of major miracle would have to occur for the entire album to be that good, and the next few songs can be viewed as disappointing. However, this is a rather negative way to look at the album, as every song here has merit – good song writing, atmospheric instrumentation and very well done melodies. Within their alternative pop niche the band explore a number of different moods, from soaring climaxes (Hercules
) through the slightly creepy (Lincoln’s Eyes
) to rippling, celebratory music (Nite and Fog
). It’s a very cohesive album, but also quite a varied one, and one that has a lot of different styles that can draw in a large number of fans.
A great segment of the album is tracks 5-7. Nite and Fog
has great drumming and this lovely rippling effect that gets the song flowing like a river. Donahue’s voice drops down a key or two here, which gives him a much better tone in my opinion. Little Rhymes
is a great song as well, especially for the use of echo in the chorus – it’s incredibly simple yet it’s inspired. If this album is playing in the background, it’s around now you’re likely to be hooked. We then go into an incredibly poppy and happy song, A Drop In Time
. Fortunately, it does not suffer any of the mainstream pop downfalls, and as such is neither cheesy nor over-produced. It’s merely simple, catchy and puts a smile on your face.
Another noteworthy song on this album is the closer, Hercules
. At 7:52 it’s a bit of an epic, but oh my it’s certainly worth it. It builds up slowly but inexorably until by the end of the song it’s worked its clever hooks and key changes upon you and you’re hopelessly in its cunning grasp. Personally, I can’t get enough of it.
Some wonderful songs
Moments of pop perfection
Occasionally irritating vocals
Not every song quite up to the standard of the stand-out tracks
The Dark Is Rising
Nite and Fog
A Drop In Time
Overall Rating: 4.5/5