Have Mercy just released their latest album, Make The Best Of It, via Hopeless Records.
Since their 2013 debut, The Earth Pushed Back, Baltimore-based band Have Mercy have been one of the most impressive, and possibly the most underrated band in the emo revival. Both of their previous albums instantaneously became modern classics in the genre, fusing emotional and passionate emo with indie-rock influenced songwriting and production. While many of their contemporaries have either moved on from emo mostly/entirely or have regressed musically, Have Mercy have released their 3rd consecutive landmark record, and quite possibly their most consistent, Make the Best of It.
Have Mercy don’t really deviate from their usual formula or re-invent the wheel here, the record clocks in at 11 songs and 40 minutes, each of them in the 3 or 4 minute range. Their indie edge is a bit more slightly pronounced here, emo riffing isn’t nearly as prominent and the guitar tones are a bit cleaner than usual. This change is pronounced very noticeably on the track “Begging For Bones,” featuring piano lines and acoustic guitar undertones. The fusion of genres works really well, innovating their sound while not really making any radical departures and generally sticking to their guns musically. As far as songwriting goes, this is probably their most consistent offering, there aren’t really many true standouts, but that’s because the songwriting and structures are tight and never let up throughout, while still offering room for variation.
Vocalist/guitarist Brian Swindle shines lyrically on this release as well, though those familiar with their previous work won’t be surprised by that. Thematically they still deal with topics such as angst and heartbreak, but in a more mature and composed way that also manages not to subvert the raw and passionate emotions the band have always conveyed well. For better and for worse, it’s generally not as raw their last two albums, particularly their debut. However, harder songs are still present, notably “Good Christian Man” and “Baby Grand.” The production I believe is a bit of a step down, but not enough to where it’s a real detriment to the enjoyment of the album, but at times it verges on being overproduced. However, these are minor flaws, there really isn’t anything major I would change.
There really isn’t much to complain about with this release. If you’ve enjoyed their prior work, you will certainly enjoy this. If you’re into emo at all or if you like your indie on the more passionate side, definitely check this out as well. While I do wish they would experiment a bit more with their songwriting, this is still an incredibly well-written, emotionally hard-hitting (I definitely cried multiple times throughout the albums duration) collection of songs. The entire record is strong, but the 2nd half is where it really shines, the stretch starting from “Reaper” until the end of the album is phenomenal. It doesn’t quite hit the highs of A Place Of Our Own, but is probably their best overall in the sense that it pulls you in from the opening moments and doesn’t let up until the end. Have Mercy have released their 3rd straight stellar album, a feat incredibly difficult to pull off by any band/artist—especially in the emo genre.