[[caption-width-right:297:The band's lineup circa 1998.]]

Mercury Rev are a psychedelic AlternativeRock[=/=]DreamPop[=/=]NoisePop band from Buffalo, New York, formed in 1989. They are frequently compared to the Music/FlamingLips, since both bands experienced the same evolution from noisy, punky psychedelia to lushly orchestrated BaroquePop, Jonathan Donahue was a guitarist in the Lips for a few years early in TheNineties, and Dave Fridmann near-exclusively produces both bands.

Their initial lineup was as follows:
* David Baker - vocals
* Jonathan Donahue - guitar, vocals
* Grasshopper (Sean Mackowiak) - guitar, clarinet
* Dave Fridmann - bass, keyboards, RecordProducer
* Suzanne Thorpe - flute, horns
* [[MyNaymeIs Jimy]] Chambers - drums

This lineup produced two CultClassic albums, ''Yerself Is Steam'' (1991) and ''Boces'' (1993), which found a large audience and some chart success in the indie-rock-happy UK. The album's styles are marked by [[EpicRocking extended run-times]], ragged self-production, use of Grasshopper's homemade Tettix Wave Acumulator synth, a chaotic sound that constantly shifts between poppy accessibility and freaky guitar noisescapes, {{Word Salad Title}}s and [[WordSaladLyrics lyrics]], and the interplay between Baker's deranged, low-pitched vocals and Donahue's more [[Music/SigurRos Jónsi]] sounding voice.

The lineup was plagued by instability, drug abuse and CreativeDifferences, and ''Boces'' (named after New York's Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) earned infamy as a particularly TroubledProduction even by their CrazyAwesome standards - one famous story is that either Donahue or Baker tried at one point to [[EyeScream gouge out Grasshopper's eye]] [[CutHisHeartOutWithASpoon with a spoon]].

Baker eventually departed in 1995, and the band's next album ''See You on the Other Side'' (1995) captured the resulting transition: Baker took the noisy, confrontational side of the band's sound with him, leaving Donahue to steer the band towards a more accessible, melodic, lush BaroquePop-influenced sound. However, ''See You on the Other Side'' sank like a brick on the UK charts and attracted no attention, leaving Donahue despondent and pushing the band into a hiatus.

Mercury Rev finally regrouped to record 1998's ''Deserter's Songs'', which surprisingly became their most successful album in the UK and Europe, and gave them a minor hit with "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp". This convinced them not to disband, and they've continued making BaroquePop[=/=]PsychedelicRock albums ever since. Their lineup has also been reduced with Chambers and Thorpe leaving soon after ''Deserter's Songs'', leaving Donahue, Grasshopper, Fridmann and new drummer/pianist Jeff Mercel.

* ''Yerself Is Steam'' (1991)
* ''Boces'' (1993)
* ''See You on the Other Side'' (1995)
* ''Deserter's Songs'' (1998)
* ''All Is Dream'' (2001)[[note]]with the incredible misfortune of coming out on September 11, 2001[[/note]]
* ''The Secret Migration'' (2005)
* ''Snowflake Midnight'' and ''Strange Attractor'' (2008)
!Mercury Rev provide examples of:

* BrokenRecord: "Car Wash Hair", "Very Sleepy Rivers".
* BunnyEarsLawyer: All the members, all the time.
* CoolOldLady: According to a 1991 interview with ''Melody Maker'', Grasshopper's mother:
-->I ask Grasshopper's mother, who must be about 50-odd, if she enjoyed the show. "Oh yes," she beams, "it induced orgasm." I'm sorry? "It induced orgasm." After 36 hours in the vicinity of [[WeirdnessMagnet Mercury Rev]], [[WeirdnessCensor nothing on earth should throw me]]. This does. "Can I take your photograph?" she asks. I run away and tell Grasshopper that his band has just sexually aroused his mother. "Uh-huh," he says, like I've just asked him if he wants a beer. "She's kinda cool. And she smokes a lotta dope."
* CoverVersion: They've covered "If You Want Me to Stay" by Music/SlyAndTheFamilyStone, "Shhh/Peaceful" by Music/MilesDavis, "He Was a Friend of Mine" by Music/BobDylan, "Motion Pictures" and "Philadelphia" by Music/NeilYoung, "Caroline Says Pt. II" by Music/LouReed and the standard "I Only Have Eyes For You".
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: All the members, but Grasshopper most of all.
* CreepyMonotone: David Baker's singing on "Very Sleepy Rivers". He also pulls the CarefulWithThatAxe.
* DemotedToExtra: Suzanne Thorpe was credited as part of the guest orchestra from ''All Is Dream'' onwards. It was generous to credit her as a band member to begin with considering that she didn't play on every song and didn't appear with the band in interviews and photo shoots.
** David Fridmann gradually phased himself out of the band, first declining to tour with them from 1995 onwards and then quitting as bass player before 2005's ''The Secret Migration'' while continuing to produce the band's albums. However, he remained credited as the band's bass player while still a studio player, making this case an aversion.
* EpicRocking: "Chasing a Bee", "Sweet Oddysee of a Cancer Cell t' th' Center of Yer Heart", "Frittering", "Very Sleepy Rivers", "Car Wash Hair", "Meth of a Rockette's Kick", "Snorry Mouth", "Empire State (Son House In Excelsis)", "Racing the Tide", "Lincoln's Eyes", "Hercules".
* FallingBass: "Opus 40".
* HiddenTrack: Their previously released single "Car Wash Hair" on ''Yerself Is Steam'' (some editions list it on the back); the almost ''Zelda''-esque orchestral experiment hidden on ''Deserter's Songs''.
* IdiotBall: Fridmann stupidly wasted the band's advance on buying his mother a Bermuda vacation package, forcing them to seek assistance from [[Music/{{Galaxie 500}} Dean Wareham]] to record "Car Wash Hair".
* IndecipherableLyrics: More than half of "Very Sleepy Rivers".
* LighterAndSofter: What they became after David Baker left.
* LoudnessWar: What Dave Fridmann does nowadays, unfortunately.
* MadnessMantra: "Very Sleepy Rivers".
* MurderBallad: In a very cryptic way, "Very Sleepy Rivers" is about a serial killer who pretends to be a [[StepfordSmiler normal person]].
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak.
* PersonaNonGrata: In a Music/{{Swans}}-like example, during the Lollapalooza tour in 1993, they were thrown off the stage for being too loud and noisy.
* RougeAnglesOfSatin: Some of their titles are prone to this, like "Girlfren" or "Sweet Oddysee of a Cancer Cell t' th' Center of Yer Heart".
* SopranoAndGravel: In the early days, the contrast between David Baker's low-pitched mumbling and Jonathan Donahue's very high-pitched voice.
* StepUpToTheMicrophone: Jonathan Donahue sang a handful of songs on the first two albums before becoming full time lead vocalist after David Baker's departure.
** Grasshopper sings lead on the ''Deserter's Songs'' track "Hudson Line"
* TitleDrop: "Chasing a Bee", for ''Yerself Is Steam''.
* WordPureeTitle: ''Boces'' is named after the acronym of a New York vocational school system: Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, or BOCES.
* WordSaladLyrics: Baker's specialty. Jonathan Donahue did the same at first, but seems to have shifted to more straightforward lyrics recently.
* {{Word Salad Title}}s: Keepers like "Syringe Mouth", "Sweet Oddysee of a Cancer Cell t' th' Center of Yer Heart" and "Continuous Trucks and Thunder Under a Mother's Smile" almost give the Music/FlamingLips a run for their money.
-->[[TheStinger It's not as easy as it may seem, just remember that yerself is steam]]