Jonathan Donahue, Grasshopper and co put their troubles behind them and return with an eighth album of immersive, cinematic rock
“For the first time in forever I laid the needle down inside the groove / and for the first time in forever I feel like getting lost in a tune”, sings Jonathan Donahue in his instantly recognisable voice. The song is Rainy Day Record, the final track on Mercury Rev’s comeback album The Light In You and by the time it brings the album to a close with a tongue-in-cheek spoken word section paying homage to everyone from Derek & Clive to The Fall, it is certain that the redemptive power of music has saved Donahue and his bandmate Grasshopper.
This is a fitting ending for the band’s eighth studio album, and their first since 2008’s Snowflake Midnight. The duo have spoken of a tumultuous period in the intervening years and, if you look underneath the glistening orchestration and ethereal lyrics, it’s all there to be seen. The Queen Of Swans, Amelie and You’ve Gone With So Little For So Long build towards the tragic loneliness of Central Park East. Each track is cinematic and immersive, packed with moments of beauty and terror like Disney’s Fantasia scored by Van Dyke Parks.
As the record progresses there is a palpable lightening of mood, the dizzying Are You Ready leads to the unabashed blasts of brass on the uncharacteristically poppy Sunflower. The tempo may slow on Moth Light, but the twinkling FX are no less joyful; the perfect partner for Donahue’s childlike wonder. Whatever their troubles, Mercury Rev have come out the other side and The Light In You is a majestic testament to this fact, and a welcome return.
Verdict: A glorious reintroduction to an old favourite