There are very few albums that have the ability to make you instantly warm to it. Albums that make you question every other album you have listened to recently and albums that you just want to listen to over and over and tell everyone you know about it. Ladies and gentlemen may we present to you ‘The Earth Pushed Back’ by Have Mercy.
Musically this album is lush and is full of all kinds of clever intricacies, yet none of this is obnoxious at all. In fact Have Mercy are far too modest for their own good. Opening track ‘Level Head’ might be one of the best opening tracks on an album in recent years; it’s packed full of angst and the delivery of Brian Swindle’s vocals are absolutely perfect.
In the past few years there have been a wealth of bands playing emo revivalist/indie punk music and many of these bands’ influence can be heard on ‘The Earth Pushed Back’ in some way or another. For instance on ‘This Old Ark’ there’s a real air of Balance & Composure to this track; the massive layers of guitar coupled with Brian’s vocals are one such example. Have Mercy really know when to turn things up a notch, one minute there’s little more than a guitar and some vocals which perfectly portrays the feeling throughout the song and the next it’s a cacophony of delightful sounds. That’s not a bad thing and is certainly not a criticism of Have Mercy at all, vocalist Brian is perhaps the stand out member in this band; being able to switch from soft almost spoken vocals to throat-wrenching raw singing in an instant.
The more obvious comparisons on this album are definitely bands such as Brand New and Manchester Orchestra especially with the way in which Brian delivers his vocals, but in fact we’d go as far to say that Have Mercy offer a much more polished version of events on ‘The Earth Pushed Back’. In danger of sounding repetitive and monotonous we really can’t fault Brian’s vocal deliver throughout this album. Lead single ‘Let’s Talk About Your Hair’ shows the band as a whole at their best, the impressive work of the rhythm section is on top form throughout this song whilst again Brian offers the listener the best of his incredible and varied vocal style. The guitar cuts through the entire song and whilst mostly follows the tried and tested method found in this style of music of being mostly ‘noodley’ and rather energetic it perfectly juxtaposes itself alongside the lyrics and the vocals which carry those lyrics.
In many ways ‘Let’s Talk About Your Hair’ acts as a sort of chapter change in the album; the songs which follow are far different to the earlier tracks and offer a more subtle way of thinking. They are much more ballad-like and are the sort of songs a band like Jimmy Eat World would be proud of. For instance ‘Living Dead’ is a stripped back affair which makes use of a female vocalist and the guitars are sombre whilst the track also incorporates some strings and piano. It’s a delightful little dark pop track without ever trying to be a pop song.
Thematically this album deals with the loss of a loved one which to many might seem tired and could put people off if they knew this prior to listening. However we urge you to listen and you won’t regret it. The way it manages to maturely deal with this theme without ever sounding clichéd or puerile is absolutely commendable. Listening to this album you almost forget about the theme due to the musicianship on display and the delicately complex way in which Have Mercy craft their songs; songs which are all driven by Brian’s incredibly resplendent vocals. However. upon later cogitation, and once you’ve listened a few times and really taken this absolute masterpiece of an album in, the theme will really hit you, and don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Personally it’s been a real pleasure listening to this album over and over and being given the opportunity to review such an impeccable debut album by a band we hope will go on and receive the sycophancy they really do deserve. If this debut album is anything to go by, then boy are we excited to see and hear what the future holds for this band. There isn’t anything we can flaw with this album. The song writing is some of the most transcendent we have ever heard here especially from a band in its relative infancy. Then there is the way the whole record flows in such an incredible manner. And let’s not forget the actual musicianship on display throughout. There aren’t enough positive words in the English language to describe just how truly great this album is!
‘The Earth Pushed Back’ by Have Mercy is out now on Topshelf Records.
Words by Colin Henderson