on 25 February 2000
I remember this album coming out, and it literally blowing me and my mates away. The album contains the masterpiece "frittering", which starts with steel string acoustic guitar, maving into the wall of sound that you'd expect from the likes of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, then trickling back down to the underlying melody. If only for this and "Chasing a Bee", this album is an amazing piece of work. However, it also contains the grunge guitar classic "Syringe Mouth", and numerous other classics.
In my mind, this is Mercury Rev at their greatest, remeniscent of "Loveless" by My Bloody Valentine. I simply cannot do this album justice in words, just buy it.
on 8 October 2002
One of those rare albums which could sincerely be describe as transcendental- an album of pyschedelic rock which is truly epic in depth.
The music is truly unlike anything you'll ever hear. The songs seem to float from your speakers and fill the room with smoky atmospheres, you'll feel like you're wading through the room. But as your head is filled with hazy melodies, a soaring guitar riff, pounding percussion beat or delicate flute section will emerge which fills your heart enough to burst. But while 'Yerself Is Steam' succeeds in being vague and dense, it still has the tunes in rock-out moments like 'syringe mouth' and 'Coney Island Cyclone'.
The lyrics are richly bizarre and manage to be enigmatic ('I need pink, I need cream. I need someone who sews up seams'), hilarious ('space control uh...it's out there, I better get my pants back on. My mom is coming over') or profoundly moving ('And you wonder why I leave so soon/ I get so high then sink/ to the bottom of your room').
The words can mean nothing, everything or both at once and are simply perfect.
As with each Rev release, there isn't another album which sounds anything like this- even other Rev records. Listening to this will make you a better person.
This first time I heard this I didn´t rate it at all. I think it remained in my wardrobe for about a year collecting dust. And then one rainy day I fished it out and gave it another try.
I listened to it a good five or six times that day and by the end I was completely entranced. This is one of those incredible records that grows on you with every listen, over ten years later I still don´t think I understand everything about it.
This incredibly bold debut is a masterwork of ranging sonic noise. "Chasing a bee," along with all the other tracks begins so insipidly and calmly before building to it´s tumult. It´s an incredibly brave way to begin your first record. I imagine most bands say to themeselves,"let´s really try and enter with a bang." Mercury Rev have conjured up a bulbling caldron of noise.
"Coney island cyclone," with it´s terrifically catchy riff is the only composition that comes remotely close to what you might call a conventional pop song. "Frittering," with it´s inventibly bassy start is probably my favourite track. I also like the moaning sound and haunting lyric on,"very sleepy rivers." Individual tracks are of secondary importance on this record, they all marry together to form a unique panorama.
This record is a complete one off, a beautiful never ending story that I never tire of going back to.
on 2 May 2003
After hearing this album for the first time back in '91 I have still to hear a more life changing album than this. Coming straight at you with the chaotic melodies of 'Chasing a Bee' the album swings wildly with the dream like states of 'Sweet oddysee...' and the ever beautiful 'Frittering' to the Americana of 'Coney Island Cyclone'. No two songs sound the same or from the same band, all truly beautiful in their own way.
A review cannot do this album justice, I'm not elequent enough to convey my emotions when listening to this. Of all the albums I own, this one stands out, more so than their successful album 'Deserters Songs' which you should also own.
Like one of the other reviewers, I was taken aback when I first heard this album, the problem being that my only other experience of Mercury Rev was 'Deserter's Songs', which is much different in style. I was ready for it the second time.
I think three of the four long tracks are superb. 'Chasing A Bee' is like a tornado of guitars with effects pedals at full throttle, with a calm, tiny voice in the eye of the storm, the whole underpinned by three repeated notes which give the song its structure. 'Sweet Oddysee...' is more like waves of rolling thunder; this is scary music. 'Frittering' is the best of the lot, surfing on a beautiful, two-chord acoustic riff while the obligatory grungy guitar creates a band of static-like background noise. 'Very Sleepy Rivers' is the only reason I don't give the album full marks. For me, it doesn't have the distinctive edge of the other tracks and consumes the last twelve minutes of the album, creating an anti-climax.
The shorter tracks all have something to commend them, the stomping 'Syringe Mouth' and the quieter 'Blue And Black' in particular. For the most part, 'Yerself Is Steam' is a great piece of early nineties psychedelia.
I was introduced to Mercury Rev in 1992; I remember it well - the Royal Albert Hall, as the main support act to The House of Love, and they followed the (then unheard of) Cranberries on to stage.
I was not expected what I saw and heard that night. Oh the noise! Strange sounds! More noise! But oh, what a noise. Forget the stage, Mercury Rev don't need one, with the singer crawling along the floor amongst the audience. I cannot remember the House of Love (or the Cranberries - but can anybody?) that night, but I certainly remember Mercury Rev! I went out the next day and bought this, and it has been played regularly since. Forget Sonic Youth, forget My Bloody Valentine. This is the noisy Opus from the early 90s, outdoing the former two at their own noisy game!
Uneasy listening, but so worth it. The later, and more commercial Deserter's Songs is also great, but to hear Mercury Rev at their noisiest and most eclectic, this and Boces are a must, with this just edging it, whilst personally, I think these first two albums (despite being older) have aged far far better than their more recent offerings.
Yerself Is Steam is an album of sweeping anthemic bursts of rock that follow strange trains of thought. The opener Chasing A Bee is a symphony of skilfully applied distortion and rumbling guitar attack behind world-weary lyrics, leading up to an earthquake-like climax and then subsiding to the tune of a flute, leaving the listener breathless at its conclusion. There are also the majestic swirls of Coney Island Cyclone, the straight hard rock of Syringe Mouth and the intelligent piano, orchestral buildup and poignant lyrics of Blue And Black. Steam was a most impressive debut album that extended the boundaries of rock in daring new directions. Just be warned that this is not immediate music - it takes persistent listening to really grasp, let alone appreciate, its subleties.
This New York band creates sweeping anthemic bursts of rock that follow strange trains of thought. The opener Chasing A Bee is a symphony of skilfully applied distortion and rumbling guitar attack behind world-weary lyrics, leading up to an earthquake-like climax and then subsiding to the tune of a flute, leaving the listener breathless at its conclusion. There are also the majestic swirls of Coney Island Cyclone, the straight hard rock of Syringe Mouth and the intelligent piano, orchestral buildup and poignant lyrics of Blue And Black. "Steam" was a most impressive debut album that extended the boundaries of rock in daring new directions. Just be warned that this is not immediate music - it takes persistent listening to really grasp, let alone appreciate, its subleties.
on 9 July 2003
I dunno about you guys out there but I never thought Sonic Youth's music lived up to it's reputation.
Good job we have the likes of Yerself Is Steam to fall back on! The sounds nothing little 'All is Dream'-era Rev, so fans of those later records may be surprised at what comes farting out their speakers but it really is a gorgeous, quirky racket! Not quite their strangest album (the title belongs to the superior See You on the Other Side) but there is a lot here to sink yer teeth into. Great replay value for the gonzo guitar noises. Nnnnice
on 17 October 2012
One of the best albums of all time? Undoubtedly! It's a simple case of quantum dynamics and 13.8 billion years. Jonathan Donahue, Dave Fridmann, Suzanne Thorpe, David Baker, Dean Wareham, Mr Hopper: All Time Supergroup. Can't be bothered to tell what eclectic groups and ventures they've had or are having, just Fritter away your ri·dic·u·lous chance of life and listen to this.