It is rare to find a record that is completely overwhelming and astonishing on first listen, but it is rarer still to find one that sounds special months later after playing the album to death and hearing Lamacq play it every day for weeks. The stand-out track by a long way on the gently wondrous All Is Dream, The Dark Is Rising _is_ that record.
Opening with a stunning string arrangement that sounds like it's come from an epic movie, it drops away to the simplest, most beautiful of songs with just a piano and Jonathan Donahue's fragile falsetto, interspersed with more joyous splashes of orchestral colour across it.
Coupled with lyrics that mix the usual Mercury Rev mysticism ("the dark is rising, and a brand new moon is born") with enough painful reality to make the song really affecting ("I always dreamed I'd love you, I never dreamed I'd lose you, in my dreams I'm always strong") it makes a really special song with enough depth to keep you coming back to it again and again.
Only the prospect of a new Flaming Lips album suggests anyone else will produce anything nearly as magical as this song this year.
10Iain Forrester's Score