Tuesday, February 20, 2007
With Boces, Mercury Rev took everything that made Yerself Is Steam such an impressive debut and made their second album even more so. Over the course of ten minutes, opening epic "Meth of a Rockette's Kick" moves from dreamy musing to guitar-fueled crests -- and throws in flutes, harps, a brass section, and a choir for good measure -- announcing that the group is at the height of its powers. Thrashy freakouts like "Trickle Down" sound even more explosive and stand in sharper contrast to the Technicolor pop of "Something for Joey" and "Hi Speed Boats," while the sweetly lovelorn "Bronx Cheer" and "Downs Are Feminine Balloons" (key lyric: "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's up") reveal the vulnerability beneath the group's jet-powered guitars. But Boces doesn't just perfect the sound Mercury Rev pioneered on Yerself Is Steam, it expands it in predictably unpredictable ways. The Cheshire cat jazz-pop of "Boys Peel Out," the sleepwalking speed metal of "Snorry Mouth," and the spooky, smoky finale "Girlfren," though very different from each other, are equally captivating examples of the band's witty, innovative modus operandi. Mercury Rev never released another album as joyfully, unselfconsciously creative as Boces; after chief weirdo David Baker departed, the band pursued other fascinating directions, but this album remains one of the highest points of its career.