Home Read Classic Album Review: Mercury Rev | All is Dream

Classic Album Review: Mercury Rev | All is Dream

Jon Donahue's dream-pop artistes release another stirring cinematic masterpiece.


This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


The lights go down. The curtains part. The orchestra comes in with a swelling, heroic flourish then fades away as our story begins: “I dreamed of you on my farm,” says our narrator in nasal, Neil Young tones over a romantic piano melody and fluttering violins. “I dreamed of you in my arms. But dreams are always wrong.”

Welcome to the latest lush production of dream-pop artistes Mercury Rev, whose own tale could be a movie in itself. Once a noisy art-chaos ensemble — ironically formed to create soundtracks for various members’ films — the constantly shifting band has slowly evolved into an ornate post-psychedelic ensemble a la Flaming Lips (guitarist Jonathan Donahue’s one-time band). And All is Dream, their fifth album and long-overdue followup to 1998’s brilliant and lovely Deserter’s Songs, is their most ambitious and fully formed work to date — an album that redefines the term cinematic with a stunning aural tapestry of psychedelic guitar-driven swirl, post-rock daring, string-based orchestral grandeur and heart-tugging romanticism. All is Dream was to be produced by ’60s legend Jack Nitzsche, who died shortly before recording. Even without his presence — but doubtlessly with the presence of his spirit — they have created a stirring masterpiece destined for critics year-end lists. And that’s your happy ending.