From page 81 of Classic Rock Magazine June 2011
Deluxe re-release of cosmic perfectionists’ 1998 classic. Expecting to split up after its completion, the members of Mercury Rev decided to make one final album for themselves. Against all odds the resulting eclectic mix of 60s folk rock (The Band’s Levon Helm and Garth Hudson guest), Disney soundtrack fantasy and lush orchestration proved a huge commercial success.
Thirteen years on and Deserter’s Songs remains a strange, wondrous beauty – Jonathan Donahue’s dreamy vocals accompanied by timpani and everything from musical saw to squalling soft metal guitar, the measured delivery like Steely Dan with space dust. This was psychedelia, folks, but not as we knew it. Re-released as a deluxe double CD, the new packaging comes with a bonus CD of demos and early rough versions, so we can hear primitive takes of Hudson Line , Tonite It Shows and Opus 40 as well as alternative mixes of Holes – here given a skittering, glitchy drum track – and Pick Up, If You’re There . Even without the decoration, these songs are by far the most ‘cosmic’ recordings of the 1990s. nnnnnnnnnn