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Static and Silence
Our Time In Eden - 10,000 Maniacs
Member Name: Jake Speed
Our Time In Eden - 10,000 Maniacs
Advantages: The lead singer, some great songs
Disadvantages: Gets a bit samey now and again
Eden is a warbly waltzer with intricate guitars and a classic frog in throat Merchant vocal that is very dexterous and effective. It's a really good song and regarded to be one of their very best but it isn't quite one of my favourites out of all the songs by this group I've listened to so far. There is something too mid-tempo about Eden and the music sounds too lightweight at times. I know 10,000 Maniacs are not supposed to be The Sex Pistols but this song always feels as if it needs something more to hang onto and a few more tangents and diversions along the way. The lyrics are again enjoyable though and a notch above the usual nonsense you get from most lyricists. "We are the roses in the garden Beauty with thorns among our leaves, To pick a rose you ask your hands to bleed, What is the reason for having roses When your blood is shed carelessly? It must be for something, more than vanity." Few And Far Between is decent three minute song and the closest thing 10,000 Maniacs will get to a rabble rouser. Natalie Merchant has real timbre and depth to her voice here and there is a pounding drum and some trumpets (which could easily be annoying but help to drive the song along). Stockton Gala Days is the most purely hippy folk sounding song on the album with Merchant doing her tremulous warbler thing with some pretty and atmospheric violins in the background. It's quite a nice song and has a sort of country fairground feel and atmosphere.
Gold Rush Brides is an attractive song but maybe a little too laid back and lackadaisical for its own good at times. Merchant's vocal is a thing of beauty though and her lyrics are nice again. "Follow the typical signs, the hand-painted lines Down prairie roads, pass the lone church spire, Pass the talking wire from where to who knows? There's no way to divide the beauty of the sky From the wild western plains Where a man could drift, in legendary myth by roaming over spaces." Jezebel has strings, piano and a full blown orchestra - not to mention another fine vocal from Natalie Merchant. Her vocal becomes increasingly heartfelt and melodramatic here to great effect. This is one of the tender epics that frames the album and a superior piece of songwriting. How You've Grown is a pretty introspective song with another haunting and emotional vocal by Natalie Merchant. The slower songs, when they arrive, are frequently sublime on this album. I like the dreamy other worldly aura that this song manages to generate and express. Candy Everybody Wants is not bad at all and a faster song with piano. It isn't my favourite thing here but Natalie Merchant lifts it all up a few notches with another sterling vocal display. Many of these songs are designed to take on a life of their own when performed live but the studio production is always highly polished and unobtrusive.
Tolerance is pretty good. This has a catchy upbeat feel but then has more introspective and stranger interludes and all are perfectly surfed by Natalie Merchant's voice. Once again her lyrics are still endearingly poetic and pretentious and paint some nice images. "The still and silence is torn with violence A loud breaking sound in the night is made Hear it grow, hear it fade, The sound you're hearing, the sound you're fearing Is the hate that parades up and down our streets Coming within bounds and within reach." Circle Dream is a lovely song with jingle jangle guitars that has another wonderful vocal by Merchant and a summery flower strewn hippy Joni Mitchell aura. The simplicity of the song works greatly in its favour and its always to the advantage of the group to have Merchant's voice front and centre. If You Intend is not bad a much faster song than normal although it does veer into that generic 10,000 maniacs territory where if they flirted with it too often all of their songs would end up sounding the same. Still a decent poppy fusion though. Finally, I'm Not the Man finds Merchant narrating as a black man falsely accused of murder and sentenced to death. This song has brooding bassoons and a real sense of dread. Not a bad way to end the album. Our Time in Eden is pretty much what you would expect from Merchant era 10,000 Maniacs and largely excellent. There are three or four songs that are immediate and catchy and some classic slower ones. This isn't completely perfect but it's better than most records you'd hear from any period and the vocals are always wonderful.
Summary: Very good