© Rage Records/Susstones
Mercurial Rage: Michael DiGregarrio–(Lead Vocals), Christopher Church–(Bass Guitar/Vocals), Brock Landers–(Keyboards), Butch McQueen–(Guitar), Richard “Dickey” Heyworth (Drums)
“It’s so sad to be alive/A lonely boy with broken toys” – Sad
Like the bastard child of New Order and Second Coming-era Stone Roses, Mercurial Rage marries rolling guitar riffs with ’80s synth-pop grooves; modern electronica with lonesome-loser lyrics. After kicking out a couple low-end releases (mostly available via MP3 download), the band has hooked up with the Minneapolis-based Susstones to release their full-length ode to the breakup, Cascade.
MercRage has made their best set of songs on Cascade, but missed on it’s attempt to translate it’s raw rock stage energy onto what we used to call wax. The tracks move in and out of all the lonely and seedy areas of the psyche, seemingly without cohesion, but tightened nicely by producer, Ed Ackerson. The songs contained here are plucked from painful relationship scenes of the dating collective. They could represent a lifetime of chasing that little bastardly thing we call love.
Cascade traverses the travails of love’s dominant losing side. Think, how many relationships do we see go down the circular drain before that right one comes along? Or, for many, who never find that thing called “true love,” what there is to use as sublimation. MercRage delves into the depths of denial and dismissal and that easy fallback of looking for love in all the wrong places, as is showcased on “FFF” (an abbreviation for Flesh-Filled Fantasy).
The opening track, “Star**”, feels right at home in 1983 or as the soundtrack to a simultaneously dark and sparkling scene of debauchery from a Bret Easton Ellis novel. It’s not short on boogie-osity, but it seems more suited to be played to an empty dance floor with a disco-ball intermittently highlighting the depressed, heartbroken folks populating the perimeter.
“Uphill Climb” is reminiscent of the slim, beckoning balladry of longing found in places Hedwig and the Angry Inch probably visited. It shares the same pining drone that makes you both sad and hopeful, as your eyes gaze into some voided space in the distance.
Synthesized blips and Fela-Kuti-like African bongo rhythms punctuate “Sad”, which is the album’s most overtly lamenting ditty (“But it’s okay/Someday, I’ll die”), droning on about life’s perpetual misery.
As perfected by The Cure and The Smiths, this record by Mercurial Rage succeeds in making the listener feel not-so-alone in their loneliness and, fittingly, their mercurial rage.
The mood of Cascade is like making over your town into a Bangkokian wasteland. It’s streets are dark, dank and dirty and it all feels shrouded in a dim neon. All your darkest and most disturbing desires can be satisfied imminently, but something lasting remains elusive. It’s a strange little record that feels so apparently out of place on the eve of the year we make contact, but it is incessant in its ability to be oddly alluring.