American Music Club

Mercury

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Leave it to American Music Club to make their major-label bow with the most perversely idiosyncratic record in their catalog. Produced with eccentric panache by Mitchell Froom, Mercury spotlights the band at their darkest and most eclectic, favoring odd rhythms, bizarre effects, and extreme arrangements ranging from the synthetic lounge grandeur of the worshipful "Johnny Mathis' Feet" to the swirling sonic maelstrom of the fatalistic "Challenger." Under the cover of defense-mechanism titles like "What Godzilla Said to God When His Name Wasn't Found in the Book of Life," "If I Had a Hammer" and "The Hopes of Dreams of Heaven's 10,000 Whores," Mark Eitzel paints some of his bleakest portraits to date; even the most superficially upbeat tracks -- "Keep Me Around," "Hollywood 4-5-92," "Over and Done" -- are relentlessly grim at their core. A triumph of abject misery.

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