The story of Mercury Rev reads like one big soap opera, with misspent money, ties with other bands, eye-gouging on airplanes and side bands galore. Maybe that’s why it was okay for Jimy Chambers, Rev’s drummer, to be the latest in a long line of departers. His new project, Odiorne, has released one EP and now marks their album debut with Heavy Wish. There seems to be no bad blood between Chambers and the rest of Mercury Rev, as is mostly exhibited by the facts that Rev frontman Jonathan Donahue guests and Odiorne was asked to tour with its musical predecessor. While this doesn’t make for dramatic writing (Where’s the anger? Where’s the bitterness? Can’t there be more eye-gouging?), it does make for interesting music.
Heavy Wish plays like Lou Reed fronting the Flaming Lips wrapped in muslin. Everything seems somewhat muted, as if singing from the bottom of an aspirin bottle filled with cotton. There are no sharp edges here on any front. Every instrument and Chambers’ vocals are subdued and laid back. Organs and horns abound throughout the album, and the chorus of opener “Sirocco (Heavy Wish)” is the closest the band gets to extravagance, as those instruments swell into a massive wind tunnel that imitates the song’s title. Even the band knows that this is one of their strongest songs as they reprise it later in the album in “Sirocco (The Artery).”
The band’s previous EP, Want Them Leaving More, garnered comparisons to Joy Division and one can hear the similarities in song, “Marblehead,” which, along with “The Diver,” sounds also like another Joy Division inspired band, British Sea Power. Chambers lacks the frenetic energy of Ian Curtis for sure, but the clipped delivery and moody music is still there. “Kino” is one of the more compelling tracks on the album, being an instrumental dirge of sorts with piano, bass, drums and electronic noises. Being that `kino’ is the German word for `film,’ one can easily hear that the song is like a mini soundtrack.
Odiorne also border on the more relaxed side of psychedelia, like Pink Floyd’s middle ages. “One Day” could have been easily lifted from either Dark Side of the Moon or Wish You Were Here. While the influences of this side project turned main gig are many and varied, it all makes for one consistent package thanks to the direction of former drummer Chambers. He manages to pull together an intense mixture of sounds and instruments, keep them restrained, and make an enjoyable pop record.
British Sea Power- Open Season
Mercury Rev- Deserters Songs
Pink Floyd- Wish You Were Here