MK Ultra - The Dream Is Over
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MK Ultra
The Dream Is Over
(Artichoke)

Although MK Ultra has broken up since the release of this album, that makes it no less effective of an experimental pop release though. Somewhere in the vein of Sparklehorse with perhaps a bit of Radiohead, the group creates interesting songs that sometimes sound upbeat despite their rather dark lyrics. Frontman John Vanderslice has moved onto a solo career and hosting a popular MP3 site, while nearly every other member of the band has moved into different bands as well.

In terms of sound, the group has been mentioned as something of an "American Radiohead," which is unfortunately a term that seems to get thrown around quite a bit. While the two groups do have some things in common, MK Ultra isn't quite as experimental in sound (at least as OK Computer) or structure. What the groups do hold in common, though, is a (mostly) melancholy set of lush slightly-distorted pop songs with lyrical content to back it up.

The album starts out with the lovely album titled track backed by picked guitars, light percussion, and a nice two-part vocal harmony that floats over the whole thing. After the winsome "Red On White On Blue" comes the first (and really one of the only) real upbeat track on the disc in the form of "Fortune Cookies." Taking on a bit of a pop-punk edge, the group punches out and although the lyrics aren't quite as good as their slower tracks, it's an added boost before things go back to a more reflective nature. Highlights include the introspective piano driven "Darkness And The Silver Spoon," the snide, rocking, "Sunday," and the nostalgia of "I Miss The War."

The 14 songs on the album run a total of nearly 45 minutes and none of them linger on too long. It's pop music for the most part (I can't see why at least one track off the disc didn't take off) with a little bit of an experimental edge and some nice arrangements with a bigger batch of instruments than the usual pop group utilizes. It's a good album from a group who have unfortunately since broke up and if you enjoy dramatic pop music, it'll probably be your thing.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00