Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3 out of 5
Mortimer was a East Coast freakbeat band that had some success playing shows in New York City. Upon embarking on their strange and unfortunately short-lived recording career, they would metamorphosize into a acoustic pop band. Although they would have a short flirtation with the Beatles' Apple Records in 1969, this 1968 American disc remains their sole released product.
The sound here recalls the Hollies with close vocal harmonies and sometimes too-sugary melodies. Of course, this is without any hint of rock creeping in through the crystaline production. Also like the Hollies, much of the listenability here rests on the amount of sugar in the song. On Mortimer, we find some great shiny, happy and sometime trippy melodies alongside twee monstrosities. We get both on a track like "Would You Believe."
I feel that the best sunshine pop needs a tinge of darkness to really work. That's the difference between something like the somewhat embarrassing Love Generation and the genius of a Curt Bottecher or Brian Wilson. Mortimer sometimes manages to create this touch of darkness with a drift into modal melodies or Indian-inspired passages, but their songwriting is generally on the blinding side of the sunshine pop spectrum.
The big standouts here include the opening track "Dedicated Music Man," which is acoustic with shimmering harmonies, but still provides a little bit of a musical punch. Likewise for "Life's Sweet Music," which comes closer to rock than anything else on this album.
The bonus tracks include a few fun mono mixes, and some material Mortimer recorded between the release of this album and their move to England. Those tracks are interesting for the Mortimer fan, but of somewhat dubious sound quality.
Mortimer's album is average to slightly above average sunshine pop. It should be heard by all afficianados of that particular genre, but is probably of little interest to everyone else, especially those lusting for a more driving acid soaked psych-rock sound.
Mortimer - 1968 - Mortimer