Some records defy explanation and rise above any praise or criticism. They exist in a realm of their own creation and definition, undeserving of attempts to categorize or humanize their artistic achievement. Words cannot capture their essence, and probably should not even try. With Mobilize, Grant-Lee Phillips has set forth such a work.
Superficially speaking, it offers 12 magically brilliant pieces, each and every one able to stand alone, comparable to the finest moments of U2, David Gray, R.E.M., and Radiohead. Collectively, they comprise true art, pure genius.
Phillips has a superb, if not slightly altered, sense of melody and rhythm. The beats of his phrases play off of the percussive undercurrents of instruments and programming, winding the long way around when necessary to get his point across. The intimacy of each song is astounding, almost more so in the realization that Phillips wrote and performed every note himself, though assisted in production by Carmen Rizzo.
Mobilize is certainly full of complex arrangements, sublime lyrical references, and intriguing instrumentation, but the overall impression is somehow much simpler. That’s not to say that you’ll be whistling these tunes after one listen, although a couple lend themselves to that reasonably well. It’s more that one listen is so immediately enjoyable it will leave you wanting another and another, allowing the dedicated seeker to discover the secrets hidden in the layers. And of those, there are many.