I started to write a review of Mental Notes tonight, to see what people thought. The thing is, I became so absorbed in the album as a whole, the sheer virtuosity displayed in the playing (I would go so far as to say that Wally Wilkinson is by far the most talented lead guitarist to play in Split Enz, his playing is superb on this album) and the complexity of the music, that I soon realised that my review would quickly turn into thesis lengths if I covered everything I wanted to say. Here are some of the words I thought described the feel of the album:
eccentric, gothic, byzantine (in it's complexity), vaudeville.
There really is no denying that this is a fully fledged Progressive Rock album. The level of through composition displayed is amazing for a rock album (yes yes I know I hear some people screaming what about Emmerson Lake and Palmer, but they took themselves so seriously). Don't you just love those mellotron strings that are in virtually every song? And the mellotron flutes in Titus are so haunting. I so much prefer this version than the ST one. Phil's so focused with thge intesity of his vocals. The ST version of Titus comes of far more mellow and less threatning than this one. Such a high degree of unease and tension seem to run throughout the songs. It's not light music.
One thing I can say is that Second Thoughts may be a much better recording (from a technical viewpoint, the playing sounds a bit tired and slightly dissillusioned) but it is nowhere as coherent as a whole as Mental Notes, nor as intense.
Hopefully this will spark some debate, so that I can get really verbose on what is probably my most favourite SPlit Enz album. Reading through this, I see that I already have (become quite verbose )