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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mercury Uncovered Self-Titled Album review

Mercury Uncovered is a Pittsburgh band that I like a lot. I previously reviewed their demo album a few months ago; you can find that review here. The demo was pretty cool, but I like things that are more rough/raw. At the very end of 2016, the band released their first full-length album. I finally got to listen to it, and sadly I was not that impressed.

First off, I do not love the cover. I really don't like mixing color and black and white. However, I really do like the colors used on the album, and I do really like the grainy background of what looks like leaves. The subject matter also makes sense once you listen to the album.

The first track, "Scars", starts with a deep, oceanic synth and breathy vocals. The song sets the tone for the whole album and functions like an intro. It reminds me of a black metal album. Anyway at first I thought it was way too angsty, but, after listening to the whole album, it brings the whole thing together, tying into the themes of the later songs.

The second track, "Swell", is a harder and more rocking. The vocals and lyrics are good and there are some nice synth layers. The production on the drums is painful. Whenever there is a crash, the other parts of the track seem to go quiet. It makes the track hard to listen to, because there are a lot of cymbal hits. At the end, the synth also seems a bit too loud.

"We Are In Colors", the third track, is good. are we in colors is good. The vocals sound good. It's a more upbeat and energetic song, and it doesn't seem to suffer as much from the production issues on the last track. Again, there are some nice layered sounds to the synths. I feel like you could really hear new sounds with each listen.

"Emptiness", the fourth track, is also good. The production seems a little flatter, but it doesn't go in and out like the other tracks. There is a cool breakdown halfway through. The only thing this track really needs is more bass sounds from the synth or from the drums.

The fifth track continues the solid string of tracks. "Dreamspace" is a creepy track that works really well. The vocals and instruments are great. The synths remind me of Iggy Pop's "Mass Production". The, "okay", at the end is perfect.

I don't like the sixth track, "Practice".  The pulsating drum/synth sounds are painful to me. Everything goes in and out. Just like before, the drums and synths seem to displace each other. It works with the lyrics, but I seriously have a headache after listening. Then it just cuts off at the end.

"Last", not the last song, was okay. It starts good, but, at about 20 seconds in, we get to headache territory again, sounds going in and out. This is where I started to really wish the reverb on the vocals was applied to all the tracks. I do think the track ends in a cool way.

"Desperation", the eighth track, is painful to me again. The drums are way too loud, though I do like the hi-hat stuff that is happening. Nothing seems to get displaced by other things. I wish the vocals were a little louder and the drums a little quieter. The beginning sounds like a Björk song that I like, but I can't think of which one it is.

The ninth track, "Retrograde", starts strong. When the drums come in and the synth gets really loud, things start to go in and out again. The drums sound a little clumsy here. I really like the synth parts during the quiet parts. I love the lyrics on this track, and the end is cool. It still gives me a headache, though.

The last track, "The Star", is awesome. I love the weird tape loop/noise stuff going on. The spoken word/poetry stuff is great and wraps everything up that started with the first track and album cover. It's a cool message and concept.

Overall, I like the songs on the album, but I hate the production. The music seems too compressed with a lack of higher frequencies, a lack of a sense of space (the instruments are sort of muffled and don't sound like they are in the same room), and there needs to be a more solid bass (it's either too booming or to quiet). I really wish there was reverb on all of the instruments instead of just the vocals. The songs could use more toms and fewer cymbals, but that's really a personal preference of mine in general. Anyway, songs are good, production is bad. It's a mysterious album that starts to reveal itself after a full listen; there are a myriad of colorful layers to the songs, both thematically and sonically, to match the colors on the cover. The album gets a Neutral.