Review Summary: Like a Zero Drowning In A Sea of Higher Numbers
Everyone knows "that one song" by Harvey Danger, they just don't know the name of the song or the band. One fate full day three years ago I wandered into my local used CD shop and stumbled upon this rare gem of gems, Harvey Danger's "Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone?"
The album opener "Carlotta Valdez" tempts the listener with a frantic baseline which leads straight into one of the standout tracks of the album. A wondrous late 90's rock tune driven by a crunchy guitar riff. Interesting tidbit of trivia knowledge, the songs lyrics are actually a plot summary of Alfred Hitchcock's classic film "Vertigo".
Next up is the infamous "Flagpole Sitta", better known as "that flagpole song". Admit it, you like this song, everyone who has ever heard it has liked it. That's as much as I'm going to say about that.
The Third and Fourth tracks (Woolly Muffler and Private Helicopter respectively) are prime examples of bitter 90's love tunes. Sean Nelson bellows ouch such inspired lines as "All I wanted to be was a Woolly Muffler on your naked neck" and "we're not alone but no one speaks english, so we're free". Two tracks I highly recommend if you have any interest in Harvey Danger at all.
Unfortunately "Problems and Bigger Ones" marks a shift in the album, a shift downward. I won't dwell on this song other than to implore you NOT to listen to it.
Don't mistake me, the following three tracks are good, just not as good as those at the albums start. "Jack the Lion" is an emotion filled farewell to a dying father, in "Old Hat" Nelson struggles with life as a musician, asking "I"m so happy/ How do you write about that?". And "Terminal Annex" beckons to glory days gone by.
I personally like to pretend that "Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone?" ends right after "Terminal Annex", because the final two tracks suffer from the same fate as "Problems and Bigger Ones", they are bland, uninspired, and brutally dull. What really serves to highlight the superb mediocrity of these songs is how solid the rest of the album is, and how utterly awful these songs are.
Ultimately, I like "Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone?". It's a solid angst-filled late 90's romp which serves to entertain, not an album that changed the face of music, but it's still fun dammit. The only downside is the three outstandingly poor tracks that drag the album down and almost serve to glaze over the higher points of the album.
Flagpole Sitta (DUH!)