Everything you’d expect from Have Mercy and then some.
Label: Hopeless Records
Released: 21st April 2017
‘Make The Best Of It’ has the promise to be Have Mercy’s breakthrough album.
It’s fair to call the Baltimore band something of a hidden gem in that ever-blossoming pop-punk/emo scene as they are still relatively unknown on these shores while back home they’re regularly sharing the bill with the likes of Real Friends, Mayday Parade, This Wild Life and Tiny Moving Parts.
Well, whether this is your first introduction or you’ve counted the days to the follow-up to 2014’s masterpiece ‘A Place Of Our Own’, having ditched almost the entire band for this album (only vocalist Brian Swindle remains), this feels like a fresh start.
Immediately, opening track ‘Smoke and Lace’ throws up a curve ball with cleaner guitar tones and vocals but it does take long for that familiar Have Mercy sound to take hold as the chorus rolls around.
Feeling free to experiment, ‘Make The Best Of It’ starts full of ideas from the sing-a-long pop anthem ‘Drive’, the melodic heartbreaker of ‘Baby Grand’ and the forceful lead single ‘Coexist’ while remaining heavy on the distortion and a voice soaked in grit.
As far as emo song titles go, the back to back trio of ‘Begging For Bones’, ‘Reaper’ and ‘Ghost’ wins the award. ‘Reaper’ is the pick of three; a dark murder fantasy in which Swindle snarls “I got a funny gut feeling he won’t make it home, I cut the brakes on his Camaro”.
As the album canters towards its end, Have Mercy continue to revel in their freedom as the sentimental ‘American Bliss’ outpours emotion and is then counteracted by the brooding single ‘Good Christian Man’ before the meandering ‘You Made Me’ closes it out.
‘Make The Best Of It’ is a victory for Brian Swindle. After going it alone for Have Mercy’s third album, the shackles seem to be off the singer as the 11 tracks wax and wane from morose emo cries, ferocious punk hits to radio-friendly pop smashes. It’s everything you’d expect from Have Mercy and then some. Alex Bradley