Deserter's Songs (reissue)
(Modern Classics Recordings)
(out of 5)
You can hear the distance between the band members in Mercury Rev's music, in the way their songs alternately meander and lumber along, taking left turns when you think they'd take a right, in the way that at times half the instruments seem on the verge of playing a different song than the others. But the band fucked with pop music in a way no one ever had and no one ever will. Deserter's Songs in 1998 was the second record after the band jettisoned vocalist David Baker, who was known to leave the stage mid-song for a drink at the bar. By that time, he was completely estranged and had been traveling separate from the band on tours. The remaining members thought it would be their last album, so they went big, and Songs feels like the storm has left the building—the result is a cohesiveness and serenity absent from their first three full-lengths. Glorious chaos traded for gilded splendor.
This article has been updated since its original publication.