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Friday, July 13, 2007

BAYBEATS SPECIAL
MERCURY REV
All is Dream
V2

There is a mercurial quality in Jonathan Donahue's Neil Young-evoking larynx. It is at once child-like and wizened, it suggests innocence and experience and it is both strange and wonderful. Much of All is Dream, the Rev's follow up to the critical breakthrough Deserter Songs, bears these traits.
Recorded with the untimely death of slated producer (and longtime Neil Young associate) Jack Nitzsche fresh in the minds of the band, it’s hard to listen to the opening “The Dark is Rising” with its alternate passages of bombastic orchestration and poignant piano ballad without thinking of Nitzsche’s musical legacy, the combination of the ethereal and the rustic.
Much of this aesthetic informs All is Dream. From the epic and ghostly “Chains” to the melancholic dynamism of “Nite and Fog,” from the na├»ve and haunting “Lincoln’s Eyes” to the Lennonesque Broadway musical whimsy of “Spiders and Flies” the Rev tread much of the same ground as Deserter’s Songs but the embellishments are more ambitious with the closing “Hercules” clocking at just under eight minutes emphasizing the band’s quest to express the mythical qualities of pop music.
These conceits do not always succeed but you can’t fault the band from trying to raise pop art to new heights. A flawed diamond, if you will, but the attempt is enthralling. (A)

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