Mercury Rev The Secret Migration (V2) The word 'epic' is forbidden in the indie code of ethics. Smashing Pumpkins challenged that edict in a higher court and escaped with a hung jury. Mercury Rev have been lucky to avoid a summons, but can expect the sheriff to come knocking. They got away with it for so long because, unlike other bands with overt influences, Mercury Rev make you want to listen to the artists they borrow from - Captain Beefheart, The Band, The Grateful Dead. Their exotic responses to drug excess - a breakdown, a spell in a monastery, the attempted gouging of a guitarist's eyes with a spoon wielded by a band mate - also bought them time. Now over those humps, the band have stripped away the odd- time signatures and languidly bluesy arrangements for their most straightforward, commercial album. It's a collection of old-fashioned prog-rock hymns, whose most demanding question comes in the trippy Black Forest (Lorelei): 'If I were a white horse/ And offered you a ride/ Through a black forest ...' Although pop has committed worse crimes, the shifts from track to track are hardly discernible, bleeding into each other like the halo of colours around the air-brushed bug on the cover. Mercury Rev usually polish their indulgences, rather than edit them. The Secret Migration tries to shine and cut. Perhaps the band should just let go and get raw. We'll know more after hearing these tunes at the Fuji Festival in July.