Britpop had ended around a year earlier with conflicting trends ongoing and there was a big void to fill in musically in the UK. Mercury Rev had almost given up all hope after some bad luck surrounding their previous 1995 album release which was very poorly received and nearly ended their career as a band. That is until The Chemical Brothers asked them to feature on their 1997 album Dig Your Own Hole, which sparked up the group to improve their efforts. Being a group that didn’t create traditionally commercial music, this album is seen as not only their best in retrospect but also is proof that one needn’t toe the line of musical trends ongoing in music at that point. Let’s hear this album and see if it does as well as fans approved of this release.
Holes begins with some gorgeous keyboard string-based melodies and some other psychedelic electronic sounds. Instantly, this sounds marvellous. The singing from Jonathan Donahue present is beautiful, simple and melodic, and the guitars and other textures are also beautiful. This is a really lovely and pretty textured piece of music that still sounds tall today. Soon enough, drumbeats enter and more unusual textures enter. This is a really lovely piece of music and would go nicely in a film of some sort. It is also a great mixture of Electronic based music and traditional Rock music styling complete with surreal lyrics. A very laidback, wonderful and gorgeous piece of music, this is a very gentle and consistent piece of music that, although is nearly six minutes long, does not bore. This will bring tears of joy to your eyes. A trumpet solo is in the second half, and although it is barely noticeable, it sounds glorious. A really different and refreshing tune, this ends with some spacey electronic textures and a feeling that these guys have nailed their style of music. Good job by all.
Tonite It Shows begins with some old school big band style classical instrumentation, complete with clarinet, harp and xylophone. There are some interesting lyrics referring to dreaming and the imagery involved with it. This is a really interesting and inner space style explorational trip to hear. This does sound majestic and beautiful, and like a proper hallucinogenic trip, is indescribably good to enjoy. The lyrics are deliciously fantastic, and the whole song is a gorgeous masterpiece of vision and sonic talent. A really wonderful piece of music, this does sound joyful. Excellent tune, it ends with a lovely string section and more xylophone to go. Brilliant.
Endlessly is another brilliant piece of music with acoustic guitar arpeggios, to begin with, along with a bunch of layered electronic sounds. Surprisingly, this is a simple and somewhat lo-fi effort. Shortly into it, Jonathan Donahue sings beautifully and in a simple, melodic accent that anyone can hear and remember properly. Again, this is another amazing song that deserves to be heard. A very interesting and laidback sounding semi-psychedelic groove, this is a great proof of the real power of beautiful music. There are many different sounds and textures on this song that sound truly delicious. With many poetic and gorgeous lyrics set to amazing music, this is definitely worth your time. Soon enough, this piece has a long outro full of excitement and detailed instrumentation to take that magical imagination (or drug) trip that you need. Excellent work, this is a fine effort.
I Collect Coins is a short piece that has a piano in the left channel and strange electronic sounds in the right channel. The piano part sounds like a strange adaptation of John Lennon’s Imagine and this piece is a little odd. Having said that, it fits nicely onto this album and just sounds really interesting. A good intermission between songs, although it is quite weird.
Opus 40 begins with some keyboard based string patches, organ sounds and some more pretty vocals from Jonathan Donahue. This eventually launches into a very pretty ballad that could be the 1990s answer to The Beatles She’s Leaving Home. In any case, this is definitely a great and amazing listen, once again. The song is about a distraught young woman lost in a nightmarish situation. In any case, this is very pretty listening, complete with an organ solo that sounds classy and excellent. A wonderful and weird sounding trip, this sure is majestic and exceptionally brilliant. This album blurs the lines between the real and surreal, and it should be cherished for that reason. There are chugging string patterns, backing female vocals and other pretty pieces of instrumentation to boot. The guitar parts towards the end are rather subdued, and there is some whistling at the end, too. A very imaginative and relaxing tune to listen to, this is really great music. It finishes with everything going quiet and the whistling concluding this song.
Hudson Line is a shorter piece, driven by awesome saxophone and rapid-fire brushed percussion. Some calm and deep lyrics enter, and this awesome listen emerges about travelling by train. Some loud and awesome electric guitar soloing is present here as well, wailing away. This is a great and listenable piece of gorgeous and wonderful instrumentation, met with impressionistic lyrics for you to enjoy. The keyboard solos towards the end are sweet, too. This is followed by more saxophone and an incredibly great effort by Mercury Rev. Nice work, this ends with suspended saxophone and keyboards. Great.
The Happy End (The Drunk Room) begins with a clanging piano, followed by manic and odd string sections. It does sound really weird and just is an odd piece of music on this album. Nonetheless, this is a short and strange instrumental. After a while, some studio chatter enters, followed by some loose piano notes to finish off this piece. Weird, all right.
Goddess On A Hiway begins with some pretty piano and subtle bass lines. This is the most popular piece on this album. It quickly launches into a simple, pretty and enjoyable song about driving fast down the highway in a car. A really pretty and different tune, perhaps looking back to the Eagles Life In The Fast Lane in a way? Regardless, this is a glorious and very majestic piece of music that transcends its time. There is a spacey keyboard solo present here as well. This is a really cool tune and one that deserves to be heard again and again. A simple, enjoyable and majestic piece of music, Mercury Rev put in a great effort here. Nice work, there is some subtle harpsichord too. Very nice tune.
The Funny Bird comes next, beginning with some punchy textures and some excellently recorded drums. The melodies that float in and out are very well detailed. There are vocals throughout that are processed via a vocoder, and honestly, they shouldn’t be at all. Once the chorus hits, we are in a state of consciousness that is rarely reached by other forms of music. This is impressive, although it doesn’t quite fit this album. In any case, this is a good effort regardless, even if it is not as strong sounding as other material here. A wailing guitar solo is present near the middle, which sounds great. This sounds a little too much like U2 rather than Mercury Rev, but still, it’s okay. After the guitars are some interesting keyboard patches, and the whole mix sounds really different. Sadly, this sort of disrupts the flow and feel of the album and is too long as well. There is some insane wah-wah guitar buried towards the end before a super long outro occurs. Some super freaky backwards sounds and textures finish this off before the whole thing ends with some sad string sections. Weird.
Pick Up If You’re There is a shorter piece that continues the dark mood of the previous track. It seems that this album, although a very good one, has a flow issue upon listening to it when hearing the adjustment of moods. Still, this is okay, but not really worth hearing. Skip it if you need to, it destroys the positive mood of earlier on in the album. The melodies on this tune are pretty depressing and weird, and this sadly is not impressive. A nice try, but that’s about it. A distant sounding conversation is at the end of this, followed by an awful sounding string section.
Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp is the longest and final piece on this album, beginning with an upbeat harpsichord. Soon enough, some happy singing, acoustic guitars and banging beats enter. This song then launches into some lyrics about the marvellousness of human creation. This is a definite improvement over the previous two tracks, and it sounds happy and euphoric. A really cool listen, this has some pretty piano as well, amongst other big band styled instrumentation. Fantastic effort here, and this is a much better listen than some of the music before it. This is a great piece to finish up the album with and has repeated lyrics stating goodbye to the listener. There are some frenetic guitar solos meshed into other instrumentation present to finish up with. It has an early fade out, followed by some silence. Soon enough, an extra section of instrumentation occurs which sounds like a mini-orchestra, all done on a keyboard. A man repeatedly asking, “Hello?” is here, before more strange instrumentation occurs. This strange set of sounds continues throughout before marching drums conclude this album. Very weird.
This is a very good album, but not a great album to listen to. It would have been better with a touch of editing here and there, and some of the songs on the second half of the album could have been junked. Regardless, this is a valuable listen, but it has some definite flaws on it for sure. Good to hear from time to time, however.