MERCURY REV – “The Dark Is Rising”

1998 seems terribly far away, though. I would not have guessed that the shiver of life between 25, when I heard Deserter’s Songs and wanted to cry, and 28, when I heard this and wanted to write, would have seen me find an identity, find a career, fall in love and out of love with pop, meet people, meet people who have all unknowing inked their names under my skin, meet you o reader – it’s been an odd three years. And here’s Mercury Rev popped up again, to say “It’s not over yet”.

Or, to put it another way, “More of the same”. But I don’t want – I don’t want to want – more of the same. I want bands I love to change, like Mercury Rev used to change, because I want some proof or hope that I’ve changed. I don’t want to be listening to “The Dark Is Rising” six or seven times in a row, drunk, then sober, feeling enchanted and disgusted at how easily it’s manipulating me. The damburst strings, the burnt-out voice, the meta-lyrics – “I know you need someone / And I can hear someone / Somewhere in this song”, well that right there is going to guarantee repeat play because it’s corny and so pretty, but it’s also cheapened a little by the tiny needle thought that this is basically “Holes” except not as good.

“Holes” was damaged Broadway music for a last-chance show, and the show was about Mercury Rev, and you, and whoever else you wanted to cast. I think I loved it so much because it felt like music this band – this noisy lovely stupid fraudulent and fragile group – could only make once. Mercury Rev sounded like a band backed so far into a corner that they had no option left but beauty. But listening to “The Dark Is Rising” it sounds like Mercury Rev can’t be bothered with any of the other options.

So I don’t like it? No, I like it. But I used Deserter’s Songs as a lucky charm, a slingshot to help get me from somewhere I was to somewhere else, and I like to think it worked. What am I going to use this for? (You could kiss to it, maybe). And I’m glad I don’t love it, because if I did maybe I’d be going round in circles like the band seem to be. It’s not over yet? It is for me.