Mercury Rev Snowflake Midnight (V2 Music) Snowflake Midnight marks another remarkable reinvention for Mercury Rev, a decade on from the landmark Deserter's Songs, the record that sent them from indie obscurity to transatlantic recognition. This time the shift is similar to that taken by the Flaming Lips on their 2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Yet whereas that record wore its cartoon tendencies on its sleeve, Mercury Rev take on a far more ambient and ethereal direction. Indeed, it's as if the prog-rock excesses of the 1970s have manifested themselves again, with stories rife that the album is named after two teenage girls' ponies. Singer Jonathan Donahue's high-pitched vocals take on increasingly puckish qualities, enhanced by a set of song titles that evoke midsummer night tomfoolery: Snowflake in a Hot World; Butterfly's Wing; Runaway Raindrop and A Squirrel and I (Holding on ... and Then Letting Go) are just some examples. Sleeve-note pictures of rabbits and kittens aside, Snowflake Midnight is nevertheless a dense and sometimes haunting listening experience that veers from more earthy territory to moments when it seems so high it's gulping for air, fizzing with Brian Eno-esque static. Dream of a Young Girl as a Flower veers from wispy ambience into a juddering dance track and encapsulates the band's lush orchestral and electronic direction. Senses on Fire steers them back to more grounded territory, while the album is split down the middle by October Sunshine, a Vangelis-like instrumental. Defiantly unfashionable, Snowflake Midnight will confuse as much as it will enchant.