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Mercury Rev: Deserter's Songs

Andy Gill, MOJO, November 1998

HERETOFORE, MERCURY Rev have trodden that fine line between order and chaos with a, shall we say, idiosyncratic sense of equilibrium. Part of the appeal of their early albums, Yerself is Steam and Boces, lay in hearing just how close to the abyss they could push a song without it teetering over completely into avant-rock noise: in tracks like 'Chasing A Bee', the melody rode a barely-restrained wave of noise with the skill and adrenalin rush of real surfing. Sometimes, they sounded like two or three bands all playing simultaneously. Their last release, 1995's See You On The Other Side, was musically richer and more melodically controlled, but possessed of the same questing quality. It was also clear, in the way that submerged echoes of such as the Beach Boys and the Band became more apparent in their songs, that while their vision was firmly set on the future, the Rev's musical ideology in no way disavowed the finer points of the past.

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