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An Open Letter to Mercury Rev

Posted by April 6th, 2006 No Comments »

Dear Mercury Rev,

You don’t know me, but I sure know you. I’ve been following you guys since you released Boces, a long time ago. I loved how new and fresh it sounded, and actually still sounds. My favorite album of yours is, hands down, Deserter’s Songs. When I heard that, I too wanted to learn how to play the singing saw! But, enough of the brown-nosin’, I have some serious things to tell you.

I’ve been listening to your new album, The Secret Migration, and I’m a little disappointed. It’s good, but…I don’t know…I guess it just didn’t take me on the astral plain that your other albums did. I mean, I like some songs on your new CD, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. Hell, the first five songs are definitely strong. “Secret For A Song” has some great piano lines and I like the creepy,

Dear Mercury Rev,

You don’t know me, but I sure know you. I’ve been following you guys since you released Boces, a long time ago. I loved how new and fresh it sounded, and actually still sounds. My favorite album of yours is, hands down, Deserter’s Songs. When I heard that, I too wanted to learn how to play the singing saw! But, enough of the brown-nosin’, I have some serious things to tell you.

I’ve been listening to your new album, The Secret Migration, and I’m a little disappointed. It’s good, but…I don’t know…I guess it just didn’t take me on the astral plain that your other albums did. I mean, I like some songs on your new CD, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. Hell, the first five songs are definitely strong. “Secret For A Song” has some great piano lines and I like the creepy, distant-planetary sounds of the guitar. This song has the feeling of your last two albums: ethereal, dynamic and lyrically abstract. “Across Your Ocean” has some great analogue keyboards tinkling in the background and it’s purty damn catchy. I’d have to say it’s my favorite track on the album. I’m glad you used Dave Freidman to produce again. He makes the mix sound dreamy and orchestral. Did you hear his work on Low’s latest release? That guy sure is a magician behind the mixing board! However, I’m a bit confused by the more electronic sounds that are put into the mix. I thought you guys were more “organic”, man. Did you forget about the singing saw?

I need to say something before I continue to pooh-pooh The Secret Migration, I have to say your CDs are (usually) psychotropic drugs, man! And I mean this in the best possible way. They are consciousness altering, trip inducing, lyrical aural-carnivals. But some of these songs don’t do that for me at all. In fact, the second half of the album is a sobering burn-out…the morning after…a cold shower and a cup o’ Joe.

When I get to “In the Wilderness”, you start to lose me – In a conceptual “wilderness” perhaps. I don’t think I’m hallucinating, but parts of this song sound like the Postal Service rather than Pet Sounds. Are you trying to appeal to a larger audience? Or maybe your want to catch the eye of Zack Braff, so he can put you on the soundtrack for Garden State 2: Electric Boogaloo. And speaking of radio friendly hits, I’d like to point out that besides Jonathan Donahue’s voice, the music on this song sounds like Coldplay. I have to say, Donahue’s voice is one of the reason’s I like your band, but the some of the vocals on the second half of the CD sound more like 80’s Paul Simon. Welcome to Snoresville. Population: You guys, man! Man, I say “man” way too much, man!

Sorry for the sarcasm, but I can’t help it. I think I still care about you guys. But hearing some of the latter tracks, “Climbing Rose”, “First Time Mother’s Joy (Flying)”, and “Down Poured the Heavens”, I might stop caring. Not to be rude, but I have to ask this question: Did you just see Cats for the first time or something? I hear a hint of Andrew Lloyd Webber for some reason in your lyrics. When you sing over a lilting piano things like “down poured the heavens/down fell my love/the brightest of beings/cast from above” and use words like “angel” and “lover” (way too much, for my tastes), it just makes me think of smoke machines and Fame drop-outs undulating around in leo-“re”-tarded cat outfits. But I guess there’s a lot about love and loss, or someone you love in particular, in the lyrics you wrote. That’s cool, I just wasn’t ready for you to get overly personal and all wishy-washy on me. I mean Syd Barrett didn’t compare his love to a “climbing rose” now, did he?

On your earlier albums, the soundscapes seemed to have been created for a dream sequence in a Kenneth Anger film. But hearing these last couple of songs, it seems you guys have declined from cinematic acid-lullabies to lugubrious Broadway ballads. I want to love this new collection of songs (NOTE: Not an album feel), I sincerely do. However, sadly, I only like it. I only get a sonic version of a day trip, as opposed to a cosmic voyage. No hard feelings you’re still an important band.

Sincerely,

A Bummed-out Fan

(6.5/10)


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