by A.J. Duric
Mentoring and support from the likes of Tony Conrad -- who performed with John Cale and Faust, Perry Farrell, the Chemical Brothers and members from the Band -- bring us to Deserter's Songs, Mercury Rev's most accessible album to date. In the context of Rev's history of three ambitious, pseudo-psychedelic albums, Songs does not break new ground. Rev continues its sonic tradition of recording on 35 mm magnetic film -- the frequencies produced could not be duplicated in a normal studio situation -- and of creating some of the most luscious, yet light, sweeping, modern soundscapes, not unlike Spiritualized or the whimsical and childlike Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Shimmery strings, haunting wind instruments, moody horns, Wurlitzer organs, eerie theremin-bowed saw sounds and wickedly psychedelic guitar work conspire to perfectly underscore your best hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness, dreaming narratives. Deserter's Songs does, sadly, sometimes overkill with too much haunting classical phrasing. Yet, gems like the Hans Christian Anderson flavored "Endlessly" or the enchanting "Tonite It Shows" impact and soothingly linger. "Opus 40" and "Hudson Line" highlight inspiring drum and saxophone contributions from members of the Band. "The Funny Bird" dramatically soars to the heights of early Boo Radleys or My Bloody Valentine. The last track, "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp" begs the exorcising of the undeniable Rod Stewart "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" club-mix nuances. As you listen to this cartoonish hidden track, you're left to wonder if Rev has deserted its history of spontaneous, tripped-out music-writing in favor of structured, easier to digest art-pop.