I’ve come across the notion of fixed and growth mindsets a couple of times in recent weeks in a sporting context and wondered if you could apply this to rock musicians. If so I suspect you would place Mercury Rev very much in the latter category.
Their evolution since ‘Yerself Is Steam’ has been remarkable and that certainly continues on new LP ‘Snowflake Midnight’. There’s undoubtedly a link with previous effort ‘The Secret Migration’ but they’ve pushed on from there exploring more electronic sounds.
The problem with growth bands is that they may take you places that you don’t particularly like. I’ve enjoyed plenty of artists who have explored different areas but unfortunately I can’t say the same about ‘Snowflake Midnight’, some of which barely sounds like Mercury Rev at all. I really don’t think I’d have bothered with this if I’d heard it removed from context. Yes, the vocals and some of the tunes are recognisably Mercury Rev, but this really sounds more like a collaboration outside of the band itself rather than a Rev album.
Having said that, one of the least Rev-like tracks is ‘Senses on Fire’ which is very much in a Chemical Brothers vein. Yet it’s probably my favourite track on the record.
Otherwise there are plenty of languid melodies (a weakness shared with ‘Secret Migration’) and whilst a number of the songs have a sense of drama, ‘People Are Unpredictable’ veers from a twee intro to a crunching climax, the drama sounds forced in a bad prog-gy sort of way.
Apparently the tunes are based on a random melody generator, which may be part of the problem. But I can’t help thinking that that there is more to it than that. In truth, I just about prefer the free download companion piece ‘Strange Attractor’ despite the fact that it is all instrumental.
A few years ago a new Rev album was eagerly anticipated in the MPT household, but on this evidence these days are gone.
Get ‘Strange Attractor’ here.
PS Why the photo? McEnroe was quoted as an example of a fixed mentality sportsman – whose success doesn’t match up to his talent.
An alternative view of the LP.