That Mercury Rev avoided a messy, chemically-assisted burnout in the middle of the 1990s is remarkable; that they should return in 1998 with an album as fine as Deserter's Songs
is almost unfeasible. But working by the old adage that "what does not kill us makes us stronger", Deserter's Songs
is an album of unparalleled scope. Drawing on the legacy of America's pioneers and the nascent scenes of folk-rock and psychedelia, Mercury Rev have formed a living, breathing piece of heritage. "Holes" is dizzied in America's vast scope, and warmed by woodwind instruments, mellotrons and a Wurlitzer organ. It sounds like a beautiful climax, but it's only the first song, and there's better to come, what with the weathered "Goddess On A Hiway" and "Opus 40". Deserter's Songs
is one of the essential American albums at the end of the 1990s. It's hard to see that they--or anyone--can top it. --Louis Pattison
1998 classic featuring "Goddess On A Hiway"