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Mercury Rev - "Coming Up for Air" (Singles Going Steady)

"Coming Up for Air" delights in the language of Brian Wilson while penning a cavity-sweet chorus that swirls around the band's familiar baroque orchestration.

Stephen Wyatt: Nearly seven years after Mercury Rev's last gift to the world, Snowflake Midnight, rumors abounded that the much beloved band was no more. To the delight of many fans, the rumors were unsubstantiated. The fact that their music would be a slight return to the heralded Deserter's Songs-era -- the band's crowning musical achievement -- generated further enthusiasm from a fanbase eager to welcome them back. True to form, Mercury Rev released "Coming Up for Air", a song that delights in the language of Brian Wilson while penning a cavity-sweet chorus that swirls around the band's familiar baroque orchestration. Jonathan Donahue's boyish vocals and gentle performance emboldens the song's charming ode to difficult break-ups. [9/10]

Chad Miller: A sweet little tune on rediscovering yourself after a breakup. It’s refreshing to hear lines like “If you look hard you can see me/ I’m out there swimming." The narrator races around in the water “Like the other dolphins” as the soundscape builds around him. Synth-strings grow in the background until we get to a really pretty peak as a saxophone joins the texture. It sounds like everything’s going to be okay from now on. However, he throws in a last minute twist where he stops coming up for air. It’s decently thought provoking. Is he dead? Has he adapted to the metaphorical depths? None of the above? Oh well. It makes us think, and that’s what’s important. [6/10]

Dustin Ragucos: When American Football released their video for "Never Meant", the feeling of young adult love and its gravity left lovers and exes crushed in emotion. Mercury Rev's "Coming Up for Air" also bears a similar fashioned sadness via music video. The song is condensed extravagance, akin to emotion desiring to burst out. In this way, the bliss that wants to come out of Jonathan Donahue makes him want to resurface. He's coming up for air, alright, and listeners feel bathed by his light. [8/10]

Ari Rosenschein: "Coming Up for Air" is an earnestly sung dream-pop confection from these missing in action Buffalo, New York elder statesmen. Delight in the detailed, ornate arrangement. Marvel at the lack of ironic detachment. This immaculately executed tune could be the most twee example of rock music in many a moon. [5/10]

Dami Solebo: I really like the melody. It had subtle touches that make it quite memorable, and the collection of sounds at the end of the chorus is a really nice touch, as are the extra vocals. Song is somewhat moving, but the main vocals are a little annoying. Would have much preferred as an instrumental. [7/10]

Chris Pittaway: Finally, fans of aquatic-themed anthems about lost love have their fix. "Coming Up for Air" is a soaring piece of baroque-pop madness that's equal parts surreal, retro, ambitious and uplifting. Nobody can accuse Mercury Rev of lacking personality or self-deprecating humour. Here, they're willing to be a bit silly, and it definitely serves the song well. [7/10]

Paul Duffus: I interviewed Mercury Rev in 1999, or rather I spoke to the entire touring band except Jonathan and Grasshopper, which is a bit like interviewing the Beatles minus four of the Beatles. As a result I have a defaced copy of their classic Deserter’s Songs album bearing the signatures of whom I have no idea. True story there, true story. “Coming Up for Air” recalls that smudged album sleeve in the sense that I wish it was better and had a little more significance about it than it does. This is not Mercury Rev at their best. They are however to be saluted for continuing to pursue their own particular gossamer-lined notion of rock. It may not glance the exosphere like vintage Rev, but this could still only have come from them. [7/10]

SCORE: 7.00

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