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Mercury Rev - Snowflake Midnight CD (album) cover


Mercury Rev


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3.93 | 15 ratings

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4 stars Mercury Rev has quite a varied discography. From the loud and noisy sounds of their first several albums to the more lush and soft textures of their later albums, one thing is constant, they have a experimental and unique quality about them. As for myself, I usually end up finding something I like about all of their albums, except for maybe a few of their really odd EPs.

"Snowflake Midnight", released in 2008, came at a time when the band was in their lush years, their sound calming down from their chaotic early albums, and they had settled quite comfortably into this calmer, dreamy-pop style. But the music is more than just "pop". It is unique with some sometimes challenging melodies and instrumental textures, but always pleasing to the ear. This album, consisting of 9 tracks, consists of some great upbeat tracks, but the music is quite dream like and perfectly layered with synth and guitar effects giving an almost symphonic, shoegaze atmosphere, hazy yet clear at the same time.

The music sometimes may take some getting used to, but that is what makes it great. The psychedelic feel tends to keep it away from being completely accessible, but gives it the charm that sparkles off the music like a drop of sunshine reflecting off a drop of water. The music here is not highly organic, but more made up of manipulated instruments, and, many times, the vocals are also manipulated, but in way that only adds to the lushness of the music. There is nothing about the electronically enhanced music that makes it distracting however, in fact, it makes the music what it is. This is most evident in the track "People are So Unpredictable (There's No Bliss Like Home)". This song uses the textures and layers to create some unsettling passages that actually come closer to the heavier and noisier albums of their past, but never staying too long at any one time in that sound. It continues on and actually becomes quite atmospheric and experimental. All throughout, there reigns a beauty that is hard to describe. That is what I find in most of Mercury Rev's music.

By this time in the game, frequent listeners of MR's music have become used to Jonathan Donahue's unique vocals. Their is a feeling of playfulness in his falsetto, yet there is also that child-like vulnerability to them, and he sings like he is inviting the listener to enter his world of swirling colors and textures every time he sings. The vocals match the psychedelic and dreamy feel of the music, but don't ever get comfortable, because just when you think you have it nailed down, he throws a curveball, like the many he throws in the track "Runaway Raindrop". Out of nowhere, a growling synth comes out of the woods, or a heavy beat slips us into a spoken word section that almost represents his own style of trip-hop, but in a progressive context. It's all really cool and it all makes sense as the music continues. The music does calm again, but becomes even more unpredictable as it does so.

Another album was released by the band at the same time as this one was released called "Strange Attractor" which was offered for free download. It was also available with the 2008 vinyl edition of this album as a bonus disc. It is listed separately on this site and is completely instrumental. It really is a great companion to this album and continues to explore the same textures as the ones on this album.

The album overall, is better than the previous album "Secret Migration" as the sound is much more varied and mature, but not quite as great as my favorite album from them "All Is Dream", however, I would consider it my 2nd favorite. I love the fact that the band decided to take on a more progressive, unpredictable and exploratory style on this album which gives it more variety and ingenuity. The music is quite beautiful and unique, lush and full of life. I wish I could give half star ratings, because it is a step above 4 stars, but not quite a 5 star. But it is still one of their albums that should be heard, mostly for its beautiful and unique style.

TCat | 4/5 |


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