Have Mercy - The Earth Pushed Back
Record Label: Topshelf
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Why is Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends Victory Records’ best-selling album when the vocalists are off key more frequently than not? Why do bands from Touché Amoré to Moving Mountains cite Thursday as an influence when their singer was nicknamed “Tone Geoff?” Why are so many current Midwest bands trying to be Mineral (I’m looking at you, Count Your Lucky Stars roster) when their debut album sounds like it was recorded from behind a glass wall? Why is blink-182 considered the seminal pop-punk band if their first three records consisted of little more than power chords?
If nothing else, Have Mercy possess emotion. But that’s not all, thankfully. As evident from the start of the album’s opener “Level Head,” Have Mercy’s deeply personal The Earth Pushed Back is a masterpiece. Not to mention the band’s debut full-length album. All it takes are a few quick cymbal crashes and then you have entered the minds of Have Mercy.
The song “Level Head” is wonderful, transitioning slowly between calm, twinkly verses and gritty, yelly choruses. “When you were drunk you told me dreams/ of who you are, who you want to be/ and I had no clue,” shouts Brian Swindle in the song’s second verse over steady riffs. “Ancient West” shows another side of the band, a slower song, devoid of any shouting until about a minute and a half in, the song’s focal point. Gang vocals cry out, “hang your head and pray for the best!”
“Hell” is one of the best songs on the album, beginning with some simple strums before the second guitar and drums come in. It follows in its predecessor’s footsteps, a rather slow and quiet song. At least, until the second chorus, perhaps the most intense part of the album. “This Old Ark” is a fast, percussion-driven song, while “Weak in the Knees” is a serene ballad (for a minute or so, at least) that does well to highlight Swindle’s pleasant vocals. These two songs set you up for “Let’s Talk About Your Hair,” the band’s first single. The track begins with some slow drum hits before it get into a soft, drumroll-laden refrain. The chorus features some of Swindle’s most personal lyrics yet: “But I know that you know/ that I know/ that you don’t really care/ let’s talk about your hair/ how it’s grown/ how we know/ that we’re not getting anywhere.” Don’t let the rough vocals put you off; the song is still immensely catchy.
“The Gates” is probably the catchiest song on the album; its repeated bridge will be stuck in your head for days. Album closer “When I Sleep” begins with bright sounding guitar riffs that drop out into steady plucks when the vocals come in. Its post-chorus features subtle, but gorgeous guitar playing. It ends the album rather delicately; whispery vocals and sparse strums end of one 2013’s best and most personal records.
Have Mercy have undoubtedly released one of the best records of the year. The Earth Pushed Back is aggressive, melodic, catchy, and, most of all, emotive. The only problem is that I’m not sure how they’re going to be able to follow it up.
I was shocked the 180-gram wasn't sold out immediately after they released the first song from the album. Needless to say, I'm glad I grabbed it asap since it's gone now and it's in contention for my top 10 of the year for sure. Fantastic work, Topshelf really pulls bands from their buttholes pretty well :p