Mercury Rev – The Light in You (ALBUM REVIEW)


mercuryrev2As they have since the beginning, Mercury Rev seem to reside in their own celestial sphere. Their’s is a freewheeling take on psychedelia that’s as disrespectful of mode or melody as those first flights of fantasy explored by the Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd in their heyday, although Mercury Rev doesn’t necessarily sound like either. Instead, their albums project a shimmering, elusive glow that’s as iridescent as it is unpredictable.

Curiously, the band that they were most associated with early on was the Flaming Lips, thanks to some shared personnel and crossover in production duties. Like the Lips, Mercury Rev’s early albums were exceptionally obtuse and difficult to grasp when it came to any sort of firm melodic footing. Their sprawling soundscapes made commercial success appear a lost cause, at least until the 1998 release of Deserter’s Songs, an album that not only boasted some additional marquee value in the persons of Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of the Band, but also an elevated sense of gravitas that suggested they were ready to take their cause seriously. Indeed, it remains the band’s most enticing effort to date, evidenced by the fact it made several album of the year polls and won a number of  significant kudos in the process. In the U.K. it even spawned a series of successful singles, further testament to its otherworldly appeal.

With The Light In You, Mercury Rev may be about to add to that success, and if an imminent breakthrough isn’t quite within reach, there are strong indications it’s not that far in coming.  Granted, it’s unlikely that any of these songs will be adopted as product jingles by some slick advertising agency — although stranger things have happened given that ad that featured Nick Drake’s very elusive “Pink Moon” — but the sublime sound and beautiful atmospheric ambiance isn’t easily dismissed either. The music is undeniably captivating and truly seductive beyond most measure. The undulating undertones of songs such as “Autumn’s In The Air,” “Coming Up For Air,” “The Queen Of Swans” and “Amelie” create such alluring spectral soundscapes that it’s impossible not to feel mesmerized in their afterglow. While the randomness of lyrics like “Autumn’s in the air, the sun is in my eyes/I guess this must be what it’s like/To be in Beatle George’s mind” further affirms their hallucinogenic tendencies, an obtuse aura interrupted only by the quirky and kinetic “Sunflower” and the overt rallying cry of “Rainy Day Record.” Curiously, each sounds like a song that Beck would likely love to call his own.

Still, despite a wealth of weird references, The Light In You imparts a singular sound that’s introspective at times, fully expressive at others. It’s a style they themselves loosely refer to as “psychedelic rock and blue-eyed soul” on the otherwise elusive “Are You Ready?,” but which otherwise seems beyond the realm of typecasting. No matter; The Light In You is as radiant as its title implies.

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One Response

  1. The new Rev record is great. From my point of view, the band will never record another Deserter song neither All is dream or Boces. It is obvious but while they may do lps like The light on you. Everybody will be happy.
    Sorry, my english is bad but i hope you understand my comment.
    Thank you for this review.

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