Mercury Rev – Snowflake Midnight (Yep Roc Records)

Bad news, Mercury Rev fans: Snowflake Midnight is a complete disaster and a blight on their discography. I understand how the lukewarm reception for 2005’s The Secret Migration – which was weak, but not terrible – could cause the band to rethink their direction, but Snowflake Midnight’s confused mix of avant-garde song structures and studio-bound electronica is the not the answer. Yes, the same band that was once kicked off-stage at Lollapalooza for being too loud, is now writing songs based on computer programming and “random note generators” instead of guitars; all of which would be fine if the results were any good, but none of these nine songs has a hook, melody, sound, lyric or vocal worth remembering. While they probably hoped to recapture some of the oddball spontaneity of their early records, what they’ve achieved is a potentially career-halting collection of ugly sounds, lame new-age lyrics, and over-stuffed beats. It’s hard to comprehend how the same band that made 1998’s classic Deserter Songs can sound so god-awful. The band are also releasing an eleven-song album called Strange Attractor as a free download on the day Snowflake Midnight comes out. If it sounds anything like Snowflake Midnight then the price is right.