It's been seven years since Mercury Rev last graced us with an album and in that time, not much has changed. Mercury Rev are still churning out solid, reliable symphonic pop in the same vein as Grandaddy, Super Furry Animals and The Flaming Lips. You might think that following such a long absence from the studio Mercury Rev might come back with something fresh, but what The Light In You actually offers is a frustrating listen, despite some excellent high points.
Starting with the highlights, the whole record is a lushly orchestrated, highly polished and incredibly accomplished affair. Put simply, there are so many layers of instrumentation and vocal harmonies going on at all times. It must have taken forever to put together and the results are pretty astonishing.
Individually, there are a few songs on here which are more or less beyond belief. You've Gone With So Little for So Long is wonderfully emotional and passionate, offering the LP its first real burst of energy. After that comes Central Park East, which mixes busy city/soundscapes with an undeniably groovy funk bass line. Then there is the phenomenal Emotional Free Fall which abjectly refuses to stick with one genre or style for more than a couple of bars before the big, melodic Jellyfish-esque chorus kicks in. These three songs alone would have made an excellent EP.
On the other hand, there are a few aspects of Mercury Rev's return that don't quite reach these dizzying heights. First of all, it's a really oddly sequenced collection. Two lullaby-gentle songs open the album before the first real burst of energy comes in and track two, Amelie, is a complete false start. It wavers slowly, doesn't go anywhere and is bland and repetitive. Later on in the album, Sunflower sits in the middle of the album's mid-paced dirge of a second half bringing with it an incomprehensible jarring which is then brought back down with the album's next mid-paced song.
There is a lot of really good and interesting things happening on The Light In You but on the whole, the album feels very indistinct and middle of the road. Rather than a record to convert new followers, this feels like a safe LP for the die hards.
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