Mercury Rev

Mercury Rev

Deserter’s Songs


While playing Mercury Rev’s fourth album, picture this in your mind: the characters of Alice in Wonderland compose a soundtrack to accompany a trip through the looking glass. Deserter’s Songs feels like an intoxicated dream; warped and surreal. Not content to stay within the bounds of any standard rock format, this upstate New York band learned their lessons well from art rock pioneers like Genesis and Electric Light Orchestra. Rev drop in horns, strings, flute, mellotron, sound effects, and tweak it all now and again with a wispy theremin vibe. The result is a wildly ambitious, deliriously satisfying collection. “Tonite it Shows,” a lullaby ode to a romance past, seems extracted from an MGM musical when Jonathan Donahue sings “The way we were/ the way we met/ they way I lit your cigarette.” On the instrumental front, “I Collect Coins” opens a portal in time and space as a haunting cerebral flashback, and “The Happy End” mixes sci-fi strings with dissonant piano glissandos — think “2000 Light Years From Home” meets “The Love Cats.” “Opus 40” rewrites the opening line of “All The Young Dudes” to come up with “Well she tossed all night like a raging sea/ woke up inclined from the suicide machine.” Levon Helm sits in on drums for this swirling waltz, and his fellow former Band member, Garth Hudson, contributes tenor and alto sax to the jazzy “Hudson Line.” “Funny Bird” is part Pink Floyd and part ELO. When it comes time to compile those lists of the year’s Top Ten records, expect to see Deserter’s Songs filling many top slots. Life is but a dream. V2 Records, 14 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10012

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

From the Archives