25 November 2015
Mercury Rev - The Light in You
Once upon a time there was a band called Mercury Rev, they came from Buffalo, New York in America and they made albums which sounded as if they were harking back to a different age with a yearning to make everyone think outside of the box. In the late 1990's to early 2000's they had some good success and toured the world, but then after the release of "Snowflake Midnight" in 2008 they went into a slumber and some people thought that they had seen the last of the creators of the mighty "Hercules" and the beautiful album 'Deserter's Song'. But that was not the case boys and girls, for the Rev were busy forming a new album at their own pace and this has been released in 2015. I have started this review in the style of a fairy tale as it is a feeling I got when I looked at the cover and it is something that continues within the album as well. But more on that later, now it is time to start the story of 'The Light in You'....
With the sound of gentle guitars, bells and a choir in the background, we are introduced to "The Queen of Swans" and it starts off with a tale about a lady who is beyond measure and the path of a woman through the years. It has a gentle beginning and then it erupts into this psychedelic dream where the music is larger than life. It is a huge opening number that takes my breath away with the same force on every subsequent play, it is one of those numbers which can replace all previous conceptions of a band and turn them into something new; it is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in 2015 and that is not a flippant comment or anything like that - seriously it is a contender for song of the year. But the band have just started with this album and we are then treated to "Amelie" which has a xylophone and wood instrumentation to accompany the opening cry for a door to be closed, which does not reach the emotional highs of "The Queen of Swans" but this does not mean it is not an emotional song. A song about being let back into someone's life after a fight is an emotive subject in its own right and the song does have beautiful moments, amazing harps, luscious keyboards, soul searing guitars and a vocal display that will make angels weep. Granted it does get a little repetitive lyrically, but it is still a beautiful song. Two songs in and I am pretty much sold on this album already. "You've Gone With So Little For So Long" is somewhere between these two song in terms of grandeur, it has a heart that is full of sympathy for a lost soul who has been hard done in this world and the music sounds like a symphony in full flight as the band add their extra touches to a small masterpiece. All of a sudden, you can be transported from where ever you are into a tale where the pauper is transformed into a Prince for the night. It could also show how someone who has been cold hearted is finding emotional upheaval and does not know how to cope - either way it is another beautiful song for the Rev.
"Central Park East" is a tale of loneliness and finding oneself whilst walking around the famous open area in New York City. This song is easy to get lost in as you are taking on a walk around Central Park and about the love which has been lost to the world and is catalyst to this tale of woe. It describes the scenery and the loneliness inside as the band perform a slow and methodical track that sounds controlled, but still full of the wonder that started this album. It might not reach the same dizzy heights as other tracks here, but it still holds your heart in its hand and helps you understand its pain. "Emotional Free Fall" is the fifth track on this album, goes on a psychedelic free ride for the audience which I think is a good think after a couple of songs that have been hammering the heart as if it is a punching bag. It is tune that is easy to be lost in, you are given freedom to fly as the band go on a progressive trip around you with gay abandon and it is a beautiful little tune. Even the filler track on here are fantastic, so how will the rest of this record fair? "Coming Up For Air" is a song about the journey you take once you have go through a difficult break up and the transformation that can occur, as well as metaphorically showing the person who ignited this change that you have done well better without their input. It takes a while for the band to get to the point on the music here, but that is all part of the fun on this record; the anticipation is just as reward as the emotional release when they get to their peak. This song is a great example of this as it shows them in full control of their instruments and to be on the mark when it comes to placing a middle section/solo in a song. With a slight sound of regret and wistful longing, "Autumn's In The Air" starts with a set of strings that would sound amazing in any Hollyweird production; the song itself is a reflective and it is a trip with references to the familiar, George Harrison, sand and memoires, all tied up in a reflective song that is at once wistful about the turn in the air, yet there is a sense of anticipation to the change that is approaching with the change of seasons. It might be an old fashioned notion that a band should be rewarded for their performances, but we are past the halfway point of this album and it is nothing short of breath-taking.
"Are You Ready?" is not an abbreviated version of Elton John's "Are You Ready for Love" but it is another love song about two souls that find each other through dreams and music. It is a song that I would imagine in an Austin Power's inspired jam out, but with all the comedy removed and replaced with a huge dose of psychedelic noise and a rock out jam. When the band erupt every now and then in a tune that can only be described as joy incarnate, you are taken to new heights as the hit as many pleasure points in your heard and then a few in your soul as well. "Sunflower" is a space-out jam of that will make you either shriek in horror or have you dancing around the room. I know this as I have tried it out on a few people and it has had both of those reactions from different people. Personally, I find it to be a blast that can make sunshine appear even in the darkest of rooms and whilst it might be a little simple lyrically, it is also a truly positive song for everyone. The penultimate song on this album is called "Moth Light" and it is a tale about finding your way to your loved one in various forms and using different methods after losing your ways due to circumstances. It is a gentle song after the last two rockier numbers and it feels like a pause for breath which is greatly received, it has a gentle soul and sounds like the fireflies are floating around as the band perform they gentle number around you. It is over before you know it and you are wanting more straight away, it is beautiful and paves the way to the finale which is called "Rainy Day Record". This song is about the untainted joy of purchasing a record that you have been saving for a day when you can immerse yourself in it, as well as the change which is currently ongoing in the record industry with digital slowly but surely taking centre stage. You can hear the sigh behind some of the lyrics and the irony as well, but the band should not fear whilst they are still sounding as relevant as this. The past is a great place, but they are doing something for this here and now which ends this album on a very high point.
This review is basically a love letter of sorts to this album and the current version of the band. There are eleven songs on this album and not one of them is another other than glorious. When a and sounds this tight that it is either through necessity or a new found fire; whichever one it is on this album, I hope that it can be sold in bottles. From the opening ripple of "The Queen of Swans" to the fade out of "Rainy Record Day", there is not one moment when I have wished to be listening to anything else, reminded of a different band or wanted to stop the record. It is another brilliant album in 2015; it is making my personal end of year poll a bit of a headache, but that is not the problem of the Mercury Rev. This is an album of stunning fairy tales that has stolen my imagination, heart and soul and I am so thankful I picked it up, I think you should as well.
10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a God (and for this marking he loves fairy tales)
Top track - The Queen of Swans
You can purchase The Light in You from Amazon here
You can visit the Mercury Rev website here (it also has a webstore)
You can follow the activities of Mercury Rev on Facebook here
You can stream The Light in You on Deezer here
You can stream The Light in You on Tidal here
You can stream The Light in You on Spotify here
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