Around the turn of the century, Mercury Rev had a decision to make. They needed to decide how they would follow up their critically and commercially successful break out album, 1998’s Deserter’s Songs. They could take the path to the right – a gilded road through mystical landscapes and beautiful melodies – captivating fans with their harmonious chamber pop rock. Or they could choose the path on the left – a far scarier and less travelled road with twists and turns – full of avant-garde psychedelia. A path that is equally rewarding if you navigate it effectively, much like their contemporaries The Flaming Lips did.
Mercury Rev chose the right path. Instead of getting weirder and further out there, they got more introspective and contemplative. Singer David Baker sounds a lot like Wayne Coyne, so that adds to the comparisons. But he sings about the moon and the sun, as opposed to robots and ego tripping at the gates of hell. The Flaming Lips connection doesn’t end there, as they share production people and band members and have throughout their careers.
The ensuing record, 2001’s All Is Dream, reads like a horoscope column in your local paper. Astrological signs and planets aligning to impact the natural world and your place in it. A gorgeous, floating, and flowing album that takes you on a pleasant journey through space and time. It’s not all puppies and rainbows. There is a gritty and grimy edge to this dreamscape, as if it could turn into a nightmare at any point. But that’s the goal, to keep you smiling, but always wary of what’s to come.
With 16 years of age, All Is Dream is a better album than Deserter’s Songs, and is likely the bands finest work. If you’re a fan of the Lips, you should be a fan of Mercury Rev, and your mom might like it too. All Is Dream gets 3 out of 5 stars and should be listened to at least once, by you.