Gasoline is quite an intoxicating smell. While many folks seem to enjoy the reek of the toxic funk, most can’t explain why, and are quick to boil their hands to get the stank off after leaving its acceptable atmosphere of the gas station. Sure, it’s hard to explain why the smell is oddly amusing. Similarly, The Mercury’s Program’s sophomore effort, From the Vapor of Gasoline, holds the same sense of control over you.
While not stunning or earth-shattering, the album’s 10 songs have a repressive, captivating feel. Listening to “Nazca Lines of Peru,” you almost feel like you’re in a trance, with the stunted, ambient free-form jazz-rock feel and Tom Reno’s barely audible vocals. There’s really no other option than to let it embrace you, and that’s how the rest of From the Vapor of Gasoline is: it’s not great, and in fact, it all feels a bit too familiar. But it’s not offensive, either, posing a tough quandry. Each song has the same vague, kinetic energy that makes you wish for it to burst into something better, which it never does. Still, here isn’t so bad, either.
It’s quite far from radio fodder, and maybe even too much for a stoner’s attention span, but as an album, From the Vapor of Gasoline is as pleasantly noxious as its namesake, and at least for the time being, a better investment.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.