Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mercury Rev - All is Dream (2001)

My brother introduced me to this band (well, their music, I've never met them - alas). He is responsible for some of the stranger albums in my collection (most of which I haven't got to yet) as he sees it fit to educate me on non-metal genres. And occasionally metal genres as well.

This is probably my favourite album this century (although "Secret Migration" is also magnificant). I ADORE Mercury Rev's middle albums (not so much the older or the newer ones, however). Their delicate combination of vocals and instruments, the evocative, playful nature of the music... Not to forget Jonathan's beautiful voice. There's just something so joyous, so rousing, so alive about this album.

I have no idea how to classify them. According to Wikipedia, they're "dream pop" and similar to Flaming Lips. These guys are far better, however. Not that I've really heard much Flaming Lips.

The album cover is beautiful - a psychadelic array of colour - a whimsical acrylic painting that is utterly over-complex. To complicate matters, the lyric sheet is out of order, but I'm going to conclude that mine was merely assembled incorrectly. As was my brother's. Hrmmm.

We begin with the stirring "Dark is Rising", a song that lights a chord in my heart and makes my spirit soar. With its melancholic bridges, and soaring choruses, it is haunting and magnificant and just damned beautiful.

Following it is the gentler "Tides of the Moon". A sweet and sensitive song.

"Chains" starts with piano and a bit of a rock beat. Jonathan's voice is sweet - and he would be the first non-female vocalist I would label as sounding "ethereal".

The ghostly "Lincoln's Eyes" sends shivers down my spine. With lyrics like:
"... fragile as a seahorse..."
This song actually feels quite fragile, ephermeral, like wisps floating in the air. Actually, now that I'm actually reading the lyrics - they're really very random and weird:
"... covets like a dragon, grows to a shark length contracts to amoeba lives in your soul an' loves you like I do..."
I'm not sure what it means, but I love it.

"Nite and Fog" is a simpler song, which, because this is Mercury Rev, means not very simple at all.  It has a bit more of a beat to it, a little faster pace. The instruments seem to speak.

Now, looking at the lyrics to "Little Rhymes" I wonder is that a typo? "Staighre... to nowhere climb..." I'm pretty sure it's "stairs" right? No wait, it's a type of folding attic stair - haha, I just learned a new word. That'll be useful in Quiddler. It sounds sweet, but the lyrics are tinged with a hint of the sinister and sad. Like a lonely child, huddled in the attic, making little rhymes and taking pills to try and forget the harshness of the world outside.

My favourite song is the wonderful "A Drop in Time". I love the playful nature of the music, the way it flits and flickers like a hummingbird darting on the air. It skips and dances in my ears and sets my soul to fly with the instruments. The lyrics are kind of romantic too. I could listen to this song all day. Maybe I shall (I'm already playing it for the second today). What's with
"... a fleeting thought caught inside of Leonard Cohen's mind..."?
I think my favourite bit is the twiddly bit with the birds. Especially as I've been drawing hummingbirds today.

"You're My Queen" is another sweet, sensitive number. A song with few lyrics, but a good rhythm and a great chorus - every woman should be told that she is someone's Queen.

 "Spiders and Flies" is a cute little song, with lots of piano.

We conclude with "Hercules", a strong finale that starts soft and gentle but soars and expands in power and majesty.

For its atmosphere, its poetic nature, its vibrant music and beautiful vocals, I shall rate this CD 10/10.

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