Miracle’s Mercury is a loving homage to early 80s synth pop, much like Quentin Tarantino’s loving film homages to 70s exploitation films and the entire career of Sam Peckinpah. Like Tarantino, Steve Moore and singer Daniel O’Sullivan have created a debut album that’s steeped in inspiration, all the while never blatantly aping that inspiration. Unlike most of the 80s synth revivals as of late, Miracle takes this sound very seriously and the tone here is dark and heady. There’s no fun dance tracks here, kids.
“Good Love” is as brooding as they come, complete with an arpeggiated synth line, electronic drums, and O’Sullivan’s best prepubescent Dave Gahan vocal. “Something Is Wrong” sounds like a lost Saga dance track. Steve Moore’s synth playing is instantly recognizable whether in pop mode or his more proggy stuff with Zombi. His playing lends a hefty low end and a chunk of credibility to a genre that has otherwise been mined and stripped bare over the last few years by a bunch of kids that think The Strokes invented rock n’ roll. They didn’t. And you know what, Steve Moore didn’t invent synth pop, nor is he saying he did. He’s taking a crack at it, and with O’Sullivan they’ve done a pretty good job here. “Automatic and Invisible” takes a stab at a sensual sound and pulls it off nicely. There’s still a progressive undertone to Mercury, but it’s done in a more laid back manner. Something like New Order on a Yes kick, minus the 30 minute keyboard solos. Moore and O’Sullivan are earnest in their approach, never tongue-in-cheek, which lends an authenticity to their sound. “Neverending Arc” is as dark as the album gets, with an ominous sound that brings to mind John Carpenter soundtracks and Vince Clarke’s darker moments.
If you’re not much for proggy synth textures, darker moments of early 80s alternative, and balladry made for the ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ crowd, you’ll probably not get much out of this record. But if you’ve been a previous fan of Steve Moore -in-particular Zombi’s Escape Velocity and A. E. Paterra’s Majeure album Timespan- as well as most of Tangerine Dream’s 80s output you’d be hard pressed to find a more satisfying listen on a cold, winter’s eve.
7.4 out of 10