By: Ryan Camuto
Have Mercy’s newest album Make The Best Of It is your next addiction. Building on their grit and catchiness, the Baltimore indie punk rocker’s third album certainly poises them to break out into the mainstream with arms swinging.
“Smoke and Lace,” wastes no time in waking you up as we are led through with the throaty vocals of singer Brian Swindle. As has voice drives the track through steady paced rhythms, he confesses his own intimacies (“I’m a selfish kinda lover but you knew that anyways”). The mending of a broken relationship is something many of us can relate to in some effect and the masterful narrative of the situation allows a few moments of where you can really connect with Swindle.
Keeping the pacing up, “Drive,” has a very familiar sound, punk enough to feel cool but personal enough to reflect on. Instrumentally, the guitars carve out a wonderful niche that Brian’s jagged voice fits inside of perfectly, effortlessly delivering memories of a younger, more romantic time, while drawing comparison to a much different adulthood; a result of following vastly different paths, (“You got someone new who loves you, a house and a bunch of kids/ I never took that same route, it’s all I think about.”)
The confessionals throughout Make The Best Of It certainly is the refinish characteristic, avoiding cliche and hyperbole while offering insight into Swindle’s own life stories. With a honest sense of realism, the words come alive and each song becomes something much more. I love the unity in the albums theme, instead of creating single serving songs, each one further builds on the disparity and emotion of love, growth and separation.
Released as a single, “Coexist,” is a hookworm of a song, easy to learn and cathartic to sing along to. The constant reminder in the song is something that is so infectious only because of how relatable it is. Although Single tells us that “it wasn’t the best andit wasn’t the worst,” I can’t help to think that this might be one often best rock songs I have ever heard. Everything about it is just so real, from the passion in his voice, the simple and familiar rhythms, to the way the chorus digs behind your ears and burrows into your brain. Definitely something that would entice a new listener and fit seamlessly on the radio.
“Baby Grand,” has hints of so many popular heavyweights of alternative and indie, but damn does Have Mercy do it so well. With an ear catching beat to lead the song in, the rock ballad cascades with simple yet effective leads that duck underneath the rhythm and the wonderfully constructed metaphor of the baby grand to a lost lover. “Baby Grand,” is a summation of all of the fun and interesting techniques that Have Mercy offers throughout Make The Best Of It. It might just be my favorite of the record.
As the album progresses, I feel like Have Mercy is the perfect marriage of the 90s alternative scene modern indie rock. Emotive yet reserved, refined yet passionately raw. Take “Reaper,” for example, a very straightforward track that avoids many tropes of the genre. Instead of gimmicky hooks, the song keeps its emotion low-key, offering a lull in the album while continuing to keep the pace up.
Nestled in the middle of the album, “Ghost,” pulls away all of the aggression but keeps the intensity enveloped in Swindle’s restraint. Even as the drums kick in, the track maintains a held-back approach, whispered melodies and harmonies that open up into a slightly more driving chorus that allows Swindle to loosen the restraint for a few brief moments, pulling it back in for a climactic ending.
The flow of emotion, the energy and the careful attention to detail and craft truly does position this to be the album that has Have Mercy break the barrier into the ,mainstream. They deserve to be held in the same conversations as alternative giants The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers with their honest-to-themselves approach to songwriting and more than relatable lyricism. If you haven’t preordered Make The Best Of It, it is out today via Hopeless Records. I don’t know why you wouldn’t pick this one up.