Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, Merit have some pretty big shoes to fill in the emo stakes. Take a short 25 minute ride out east, just the other side of Tempe, and you hit Mesa, home to a certain Jimmy Eat World. No pressure then, lads…
Not that the quartet have much to fear, after delivering an assured and confident EP in the shape of ‘The Comfort and the Confusion’. Of course, nods to Jimmy Eat World can be seen – especially on the epic ‘Take Care’, which sounds like it could fit quite snugly on ‘Clarity’ – but ultimately Merit have very much their own sound and style.
‘All These Haunting Things Part Two’ is a breezy emo-pop song, infectious and hummable with a summery chorus and an all-too-brief run time. Very much the ‘hit single’ of the EP, it warrants – and deserves – to find plenty of receptive ears.
But there’s more to Merit than 3-minute pop songs. ‘I Wish I Had An Invisibility Cloak’ has a storytelling slant that recalls another of the fine Phoenix bands, the vastly under-rated Reubens Accomplice, and is a rather striking piece of work. ‘Here’s To You’, meanwhile, is a stripped-back acoustic strum bolstered by a strong string section.
It means, for such a brief EP, there’s an awful lot for you to take in. Merit have clearly got a handle on who they are and on their sound and, by releasing a trio of EPs (‘The Comfort and the Confusion’ is the middle episode – ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ if you will) on the broad theme of the cycle of life, they’ve given themselves plenty of scope to grow and experiment before they release a full-length. Naturally, it helps that ‘The Comfort and the Confusion’ is a sterling, stirring piece of work, pointing to a bright future for these new Arizona stars…
‘The Comfort and the Confusion’ by Merit is out now on Boom Box Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)