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Mercury Rev - The Secret Migration CD (album) cover


Mercury Rev

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Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Tough call this one. Firstly I love the album, it's a concept album which are few and far between these days. My only criticism of The Secret Migration is the production. Way way too much treble. I am not sure why they decided on this sound output becuase the cover artwork, package and concept is extraordinary to say the least. Output aside the album sarts off the the lyrically dark ' Secret For A Song', it has some great piano work and Grashopper and Donahue as usual are right on the button.' Across Ye Ocean' question where we all might end up?? Musically and lyrically very strong melodies and well balanced.' Diamonds' simply sparkles ( pun intended) with some excellent synth work.' Vermillion' and ' My Love' for me the most poignant tracks on the album. ' My Love' sounds almost Floyd Like which demonstrates as to how this band has evolved. Also worth mentioning is the drum and bass work. In Particular the bass playing on this album is far superior to anything previously they have put out and it shows in the overall feel of the album. Very polished but may be just a little bit overproduced which shows in the sound quality.
Report this review (#46157)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars My, my...strange to see these guys listed on this site. But when I think about it, it makes sense. Trippy, dreamy and above all strange (but mucho loved), Mercury Rev's newest album is their most symphonic and bombastic filled with Jonathan Donahue's soaring delicate about to crack vocals, odd sound effects, and just plain beautiful production, it's their most accesible album for newbies, especially for prog fans. Although, if you're expecting some kind of Gong/Ozric style album curtesy of the tag this band gets on this site, forget it. It's more in line with The Flaming Lips, or other American psych bands that use a simple pop structure and fill it to the brim with lovely keyboards, smatterings of crashing guitars and lyrics that are absurd and heart- breaking. Confused? Well, don't be. They're not the most thought-provoking band around, but damn they make some pretty music. Try them out. Go to their website and download some Mp3's. You'll fall under their spell in no time. I promise! A definate 4-star modern gem.
Report this review (#65305)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Have Mercury Rev relocated to rural England or something? They've gone all pastoral. The undulating soft rock of the opening singles "Secret for a Song" and "Across Yer Ocean" shows they've swapped dusty American desert landscapes for green meadows and hills. Maybe they needed to chill out and take a country holiday after the emotional extremes and musical individualism of "Deserter's Songs" and "All is Dream", but I hope this doesn't mean they're permanently heading for the middle of the road.

The tunes are pretty and shimmeringly produced as ever, but there's only a few traces of that Mercury Rev spark of innovation that littered their previous two albums. Usually they just fall back on those soft Rhodes keyboards and gently tinkling pianos. On "Black Forest (Lorelei)" a rocking Philip Glass piano evolves into a searing guitar solo. But "Vermilion" and especially "In the Wilderness" would have fitted in to any recent U2 album. And the big Motown kettledrums of "In A Funny Way" are just routine nostalgia - this sound was adapted in a more individual way by their chums the Flaming Lips on "Soft Bulletin".

As well as the more pastoral tone of the lyrics, Jon Donahue's vocals have also caught the mellowness bug. Sometimes his fragmentary style even coalesces into something resembling a lyrical croon, as on the navel gazing "My Love". While they've done sensitive piano ballads before, I'd never heard them actually be fluffy until "First Time Mother's Joy". This sugary but strong tune brings to mind Peter Gabriel singing "Don't Give Up". "The Climbing Rose" and the whirling "Arise" increase the tempo and energy for a while to keep us engaged. But the album leaves us with an impression of a band mellowing in their middle age.

Report this review (#108234)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Secret Migration" is the 6th full-length studio album by US alternative rock act Mercury Rev. The album was released through V2 Records in January 2005 . It was recorded at Six Hours Studios, Tarbox Observatory and produced by Dave Friedmann (who also functions as the bandīs bass player).

The music style pretty much follows the same formula as on the previous album "All is Dream (2001)" which is alternative rock with a slight psychadelic touch. The music is well written and predominantly vers/chorus structured and relatively catchy, but not necessarity instantly memorable. The regular rock instrumentation is as always spiced up with psychadelic sounds and effects but in a more restrained manner compared to earlier albums by the band. Jonathan Donahue is not an especially skilled singer but his fragile and pleasant vocal style is relatively personal. The musicianship is as always on a high level and the sound production is professional and well sounding.

"The Secret Migration" is a concept album with psychadelic themes on Mother Nature. You can easily listen to the album without much concern for the concept though. I think the album has got a very british sound which is a bit unusual for an American bands but Mercury Rev has always had a very obvious Beatles influence in their music (at least from "See You On The Other Side (1995)" onwards). So itīs really not that strange if they sound a bit British.

Upon conclusion "The Secret Migration" is a fairly good quality album by Mercury Rev but to my ears it doesnīt sound as inspired as the bandīs best previous output ("See You On The Other Side (1995)" and "Deserter's Songs (1998)"). The more average quality level of music featured on "All is Dream (2001)" is unfortunately continued here and I canīt rate the album with more than a 3 star (60%) rating.

Report this review (#224190)
Posted Thursday, July 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Secret Migration is wonderful. It has an earthy, natural beauty. The lyrics are magical too and float over the group's stunning psychedelic tapestry.

The dark 'Secret for a Song' and the elegant 'My Love', are immensely pleasurable tracks.I also absolutely love "Across Yer Ocean" and "Diamonds" The musicianship is marvellous throughout, especially the piano and keyboard work as well as the howling guitars.

It is hard to find faults with this album. One minor complaint is that there is simply not enough variety, with none of the suprise of the previous two releases. Nonetheless, all of the tracks are really great.

There is something special about Mercury Rev. Dare I say, there will never be anything made like this again. In my opinion, this band are one of the most underlooked and dynamic of the last couple of decades. This, along with "All Is Dream" represents them at the pinnacle of their creativity. This is more than worth giving a few spins to capture the magic. Four solid stars.

Report this review (#427382)
Posted Monday, April 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars On The Secret Migration Mercury Rev play a blissful, transcendent variety of psychedelic indie rock which comes across as a smoother and more laid-back version of the thornier and more hard-edged psych freakouts of their sister band, The Flaming Lips. Supposedly it's a concept album, though I didn't really detect much of a concept myself - either way, if you miss the blissful, tranquil airs of 60s psychedelic pop and wonder what the indie rock world would make of them, you need look no further than this album. Time was when I thought it was a neo-psychedelic classic on a par with The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi vs. the Pink Robots; its lustre has faded with me somewhat, I think because yes, it's very pretty, but it's also rather unchallenging to my ears, and feels like a defanged version of what the Flaming Lips were doing much more interestingly.
Report this review (#679673)
Posted Friday, March 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Mercury Rev was just coming off two successful albums in the UK with their excellent albums 'The Deserter's Song' and 'All is Dream' and after a hiatus of 4 years, they dropped a new album in 2005 named 'The Secret Migration'. Of course expectations (including mine) were quite high for this album, and you would think the band had their new sound that they could settle on, something that was not quite as chaotic as their first albums, but still had a challenging sound, not quite completely commercial yet. However, 'The Secret Migration' instead decided to move to a more ambient state, hoping to gain an even larger following by making their music more accessible.

The album starts off well enough with 'Secret for a Song' which hints back to the previous two albums, but it also seems like the music is cleaned up a bit, but in this case, that psychedelic edge that made the music so appealing is also cleaned up with it. This seems to be the case as the album continues on, but moving to a sound that is a bit more accessible. The music becomes lush and has a slight shoegaze feel to it, but unfortunately, the vocals are not as appealing and varied as they were on 'All Is Dream' (which is what made that album so great). As a result, the songs end up getting a very same-y feeling to them, and also end up coming across as underdeveloped. The great vocal and instrumental acrobatics are taken away, and the music ends up being just kind of uninteresting.

That's not to say there aren't some interesting tracks here. 'Black Forest (Lorelei)' is a definite highlight especially for the Floyd-ian guitars and a more dynamic track. But then you get tracks like 'Vermillion' that tries hard to be catchy and upbeat, but ends up sounding a bit lackluster with those tired vocals taking away the life of the track. This seems to be the case with both the upbeat and slower tracks on the album and nothing really ends up standing out too much through most of the album. The music is pleasant enough, though, just not of the caliber of the earlier (and also some of the later albums), the songs are pretty much mediocre. Even if you like ambient music, it still doesn't seem to have much to offer.

There is also a limited edition CD edition that includes an additional bonus disc that has some rare cuts, outtakes and live versions of a few of the album's tracks. There are 8 tracks on this bonus CD and it has a duration of about 30 minutes. The music on this doesn't add or take away from the entire experience, so only completionists or fans would be interested in it. Even the surprise cover 'Streets of Laredo' isn't that interesting and just ends up fading into the other tracks. As with the album, there just isn't enough variation between the tracks for anything to stand out.

As much as I am a fan of this band, this album just never seemed to grow on me or stike any kind of emotion from me. I am certainly glad that it wasn't the first album I heard from them because, even though I would have though it was okay, I doubt if I would have been impressed enough to listen to any of their other albums. Even though this was an attempt to pull in more fans, I would not consider it one that is recommended for those that want to investigate their music. It is one that should be reserved for fans, though it is still a bit better than just 2 stars. It's pretty mediocre, so 3 stars is fair enough. If you are curious about this band, I recommend starting with 'All Is Dream' first and then go from there moving towards the older albums for noisy and chaotic tracks, or newer albums for the more ambient and softer sound (but still better than this album).

Report this review (#2343702)
Posted Thursday, March 19, 2020 | Review Permalink

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