Mercury Rev, 'Snowflake Midnight' (Yep Roc)

8
Snowflake Midnight
Critical Mass
Label: Yep Roc

by Shannon Zimmerman

Mercury Rev have built a career on fey bemusement, jolting potentially chilly soundscapes to life with yearning melodies and gurgling atmospherics -- a formula that could easily add up to hipster schmaltz if not for the band's wonderfully skewed arrangements. Snowflake Midnight ranges widely, from synth-heavy orchestration ("Runaway Raindrop," "Butterfly's Wing") to film-score dramarama ("October Sunshine," "Faraway From Cars"). And between those ambient bookends, there's virtually no filler, a testament to the vision of a band that values "sound over sense" (to quote Robert Christgau's apt phrase) and is still evolving nearly two decades on.

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