Our Time In Eden

10,000 Maniacs

Elektra, 1992

http://www.maniacs.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/01/2006

As a successor to the hard-edged rocker Blind Man’s Zoo, Our Time In Eden is much more toned down in resentment and bluntness, going back in time to the pop modesty of In My Tribe. This is a love album, relying on a tender piano-based sound over a heated guitar-driven one.

On the anthem “Eat For Two” from Blind Man’s Zoo, singer Natalie Merchant’s remorse and rage over bearing the onus of an unwanted pregnancy turns – on Our Time In Eden -- into warm motherly love on “How You’ve Grown,” a beautiful paean on watching her child grow up. The bare violins and piano chords, which are as human as Merchant’s words that run through the song, are the fabric of the whole record itself.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There is no winsomeness of In My Tribe and no signs of the grittiness of Blind Man’s Zoo here. With its dreamy melodies and mellifluous music, Our Time In Eden has an air of poetry running through its veins that almost rivals Merchant’s rhymes in their fluidity.

This is by far the most poppy record the Maniacs have ever made. The gorgeous standouts “Noah’s Dove,” “These Are Days,” “Eden,” “Jezebel” and “Circle Dream” are meticulous pop gems, but they still retain the folksiness of the band’s style of music. It is amazing that pop songs of such perfection can be so earthy at the same time.

The gems are varied. There are delicate ones like the above-mentioned “Noah’s Dove” and “Eden,” both strong and elegant piano ballads, and there is “Few And Far Between” and “Candy Everybody Wants,” bubblier numbers with enthusiastic old-school horns breathing energy and life into them. And there is “Tolerance,” a dark depiction of violence, which is probably the most poignant cut on this record and the only one that has the guitars all charged up and going full bore, sounding kind of like a leftover cut from Blind Man’s Zoo.

An album as perfect as this, Our Time In Eden could be seen as 10,000 Maniacs’ zenith, as if the chemistry between Merchant and the rest of the band had never been so great. Even though both she and the rest of the 10,000 Maniacs would continue to pursue music in their individual creative directions, neither part would reach the same brilliance of the whole.

It is shocking that this would be Merchant’s last studio album with the group before parting ways, but there couldn’t have been a sweeter goodbye than this. The Maniacs saved the best for last.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-


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© 2006 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra, and is used for informational purposes only.