Mercury Rev - Deserter’s Songs

Their symphonic masterpiece
Mercury Rev - Deserter’s Songs
On the thirteenth anniversary of its debut, Mercury Rev have chosen to reissue their rather lovely ‘Deserter’s Songs’ album, with a bonus track for every year of its existence added on for good measure. The cosmic American dream makers were lauded upon its release - a far cry from the reception of its predecessor, ‘See You On The Other Side’, whose relative failure left the band bruised, and retaliating with a deeply personal journey into lush, swelling, romantic fantasy.

From the opening six-minute ‘Holes’, we are flung into Mercury Rev’s expansive vision - panoramic soundscapes with sweet orchestral waves of joy, all decorated with Jonathan Donahue’s strained and fractured falsetto. Colourful and celestial, it’s an album that soothes your bones and melts your heart, while wistful psychedelia carries your mind aloft to breezy openness. With ‘Deserter’s...’, the Rev consolidated their place in the pantheon of Americana - especially by embracing their forefathers within: The Band’s Levon Helm and Garth Hudson stamp their approval by contributing their rustic charm. ‘Opus 40’ and ‘Goddess On A Highway’ are still gloriously breathtaking thirteen years on, while ‘Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp’ builds to a majestic climax. The demos on CD2, though an insight into the evolution of their symphonic masterpiece, hardly compares to the ornate beauty of the original.

9/10

Words by SIMON HARPER

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