Yerself Is Steam, Mercury Rev's stunning debut is the basis of Boces. While Yerself Is Steam was a neo-psychedelic, kaleidoscopic mess of styles, unrivalled genius and ear-splitting noise, Boces is the more pop-oriented of these two yet still defiantly experimental. The mind-bending opener "Meth of a Rockette's Kick" goes through sudden volume changes, wordless choirs, brilliantly inane lyrics and a glorious noisy solo and one of the most excruciatingly loud noises ever, suddenly turning into a brass-section filled oddity before crashing into a monstrous wall of noise clearly shows that this band knew no boundaries of creativity. Even more brutal noise is explored on the utterly brilliant "Trickle Down" that ends with the most brutal instrumental noise I've ever come across to.
But Boces is not short of the most astonishing pop songs you'll ever hear. "Bronx Cheer" is the most heavenly slice of noise pop, or any kind of pop to be honest, I've ever come across to. I'm the owner of about 800 cds so this should say quite a lot. "Something For Joey" is a magnificent sunny feedback-drenched pop tune highlighted by Chambers' sublime drum work and Thorpe's flute, and in spite of David Baker's departure, the lyrical content of "Hi-Speed Boats" gives a slight hint to where the group was heading after the singer's departure, while "Downs are Feminine Balloons" hints the same territory to arrive with its quieter approach.
One of the most important things why I rate Boces higher than Yerself Is Steam is that while remaining wildly unpredictable, the group manages to expand their sound drastically. "Boys Peel Out" is a dreamy jazz number and the 11-minute swirling quasi-metal song "Snorry Mouth" is slightly reminiscent of Spacemen 3's longer noise excursions. The closer is of acquired taste however. "Girlfren" is an acid jazz number that you will find hilarious or downright boring. With any sense of humour you'll probably see the joke, but it's indisputable that "Very Sleepy Rivers" off of Yerself Is Steam was a much better album closer.
So, if you know Deserter's Songs or All Is Dream, the pure noise scattered across Boces might come as a shock to you. But once you've recovered you might find yourself thinking that this is the best album Mercury Rev have yet released, and as they've moved away from noisy transcendence into the field of symphonic grandeur, Boces will probably always be one of a kind, and to me it is the greatest album ever released. Just approach the album with an open mind if you are not familiar with what it might sound like!