Have Mercy

The Earth Pushed Back

Written by: PP on 07/08/2013 22:17:41

Have Mercy vocalist Brian Swindle is a broken man. An emotional introvert, he was passionately--madly even--in love with a girl he couldn't have, or perhaps had for a while, but doesn't anymore. While that feels like a cliche description of any emotive rock album these days, the performance of Swindle on their debut album "The Earth Pushed Back" is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Many people sing about women, love, and the usual topics, but the personal style in which Swindle lays his lyrics on paper is almost poetic - especially because of the way that the touching passages are delivered. Some songs are somber and quiet, in others, he sings with a slow crescendo style that finally - just barely - breaks into a roughened yell. Not a scream, but a raw, emotionally torn croon that can only be achieved through years of soul-searching and introspection about your feelings and yourself. This is a collection of true love songs where you are able to empathize and relate to the vocalist's - and by extension the entire band's - inner pain.

That, dear readers, is what makes Have Mercy an incredible band and "The Earth Pushed Back" a candidate for some of the top spots at this year's end-of-year lists. Usually when publicists pull out the album-of-the year card, you take it with a grain of salt, but not this time, simply because this album is the best one in its genre this year. Strictly stylistically speaking, we're in the territory of bands like The Dangerous Summer, Strange Vacation, Basement, Seahaven, and The Jealous Sound, i.e. emotionally charged music that sources its strength from its creeping, slow tempo and halfway ambient atmospherics instead of post-hardcore or punk as is usually the case. In short, this is the album that Balance & Composure have wanted to write for years now but haven't yet achieved. Yeah, it's that good.

Where some songs are loud, voluminous pieces of alternative rock with a solid emotional leaning, there are enough somber ballads that consist of subtle percussion pushed all the way to the back of the soundscape, and gentle guitars, allowing Swindle more room to expose his raw, unadulterated emotion properly. And then when his cleans do eventually break into halfway screams, those moments usually happen after lengthy musical and lyrical build up to the point of bursting, which is why those passages are incredible outbursts of pure emotion.

Speaking of lyrical build ups, consider the following passage from "Level Head":

I always think about where we'll be in 20 years, and if you'll marry me? I had no clue. When you were drunk you told me dreams, of who you are, and who you want to be. And I had no clue. That hole in heaven was a void that filled you.

Sounds kind of hopeful and optimistic in a way? Then compare and contrast with my personal album highlight "This Old Ark", where the opposite view is presented:

And I never thought the books I read would make me who I want to be. Well am I everything you wanted? Am I everything you never had? I thought it was strange, how they kept me in the dark, shouting "One day young boy you'll be a man and you'll be guiding this old ark. You've got a lonely heart." I never knew how much I'd miss it till it's gone. I still listen to your favorite songs, wishing you were in my arms.

Essentially every song is a lyrical masterpiece where you catch a rare, unfiltered glimpse into the heart of a broken man. How are you going to write a sophomore album after an album as genre defining, as brilliant as this, I have no clue, but Have Mercy will surely have a mountain of fans expecting nothing short but perfection for their sophomore album.

9

Download: This Old Ark, Level Head, Hell, Let's Talk About Your Hair, When I Sleep
For the fans of: Balance & Composure, The Dangerous Summer, Strange Vacation, Basement, Seahaven, The Jealous Sound, Make Do And Mend
Listen: Facebook

Release date 21.05.2013
Topshelf Records

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