CD Review: MERCEDES AND FIVE AND DIME
By Sherri Paterson
Moist, comprised of David Usher (vocals), Mark Makoway (guitars), Jeff Pearce (bass, mandolin), Kevin Young (keyboards, trumpet) and Paul Wilcox (drums, percussion), offers listeners an eclectic mix of raucous alternative rock blended with the occasional offbeat ballad. I've followed Moist's career ever since their first studio album, Silver, was released in 1994, introducing audiences to their energy through such singles as Push, Silver and Believe Me. Creature, released in 1996, was their stellar follow-up, featuring the hard-hitting Resurrection and the gentle Leave It Alone and Gasoline. Now, the band's most recent CD, Mercedes Five and Dime, gives fans more of what has made them one of Canada's most popular acts.
Mercedes Five and Dime has spawned three singles so far – Breathe, a beautiful ballad with melancholic undertones; Underground; and Comes and Goes, addictive cuts that have been enjoying a lot of airplay lately. As good as they are, though, these songs just scratch the surface of the album's depth. A thorough trial of Mercedes Five and Dime is necessary to appreciate its beauty.
Some of the album's finer points can be found in lesser-known tunes like Place, and Tonight, both soft, beautiful songs which highlight David Usher's expressive vocals. Also memorable is Dogs, from which the album title is culled ("…packed a lunch of tea and orange at Mercedes Five and Dime…") and Liberation, which is one of the few harder tracks on the CD. If it's a constant stream of hard rock you're after, you won't find it here. Mercedes Five and Dime is a gentler, more melodic album, but Moist fans will love it. The lyrics still have a cutting, almost world-weary aura to them, making even the quietest song fodder for analysis. If you've scratched your head over David Usher's lyrics before, don't expect to catch their meaning on this album, either. He's just as obscure as he's always been, but it's his enigmatic approach that makes his words fascinating.
I gave this CD a few spins before warming up to it. Here's a hint: don't compare it to the band's two previous releases. Mercedes Five and Dime stands on its own as a truly unique Moist album. On June 6th it was released in the U.S. and in many European countries. If its burgeoning Canadian success is any indication, I predict the disc will produce many new international fans.