The band’s website domain name may remain wearehavemercy.com, but for Brian Swindle, it is now more a case of ‘I Am Have Mercy’. Last year’s departure of Swindle’s remaining bandmates left him as the only member of Baltimore’s Have Mercy, after only one album on the vaunted Hopeless Records. Question marks were duly raised regarding the future of the indie/emo act and their future on the label. The title of the follow-up to 2014’s ‘A Place Of Our Own’ is very much a summation of what Swindle did next, and ‘Make The Best Of It’ sees him pushing back against the doubters.
Such misgivings may have centred on Have Mercy’s ability to carry on, but there was never uncertainty about Swindle as the creative force behind the group, and stylistically this picks up where ‘A Place Of Our Own’ left off. ‘Begging For Bones’ and ‘Disagree’ opt for safe infectiousness, well-engineered roughness of instrumentation, and the latter for terrific defiance: “I want to sing along to your favourite songs and be happy that you’re gone.”
The dirtiest edges of Swindle’s voice have been rounded off, but his low, simmering insistency remains on ‘Smoke And Lace’, like a slightly less brooding Jesse Lacey. Lyrically, the tales of late night pick-ups (‘Drive’) emergency brakes (‘Ghost’) and vehicular sabotage (‘Reaper’) are in keeping with the road-trip emo of label-mates Moose Blood.
‘Good Christian Man’, with its tedious chorus, may be an odd choice for a single but the album possesses enough quality to assure that the next two or three will redeem that decision. Immediacy is the order of the day, and it stands Have Mercy in good stead to cultivate many new admirers in 2017.
‘Make The Best Of It’ is a release that confirms Brian Swindle’s ability to steer his ship with or without a crew. Whether recruiting new permanent members or the rotating cast that helped record this album, his band’s future looks somewhat clearer – and the songs better than ever.
‘Make The Best Of It’ by Have Mercy is released on 21st April on Hopeless Records
Words by Peter Stewart (@PeteStew_)