Review by Dom Vigil
Make The Best Of It, the third studio album from Baltimore’s Have Mercy is a perfect progression from their powerful and emotionally charged sophomore release, A Place Of Our Own. With three years between these two albums, the band has certainly had the chance to take a step back in order to hone in on a solid, yet slightly more mellow sound, and the outcome is a stunning, heartbreaking eleven song release.
The dark opener “Smoke And Lace” signifies a slight shift in sound from Have Mercy right off the bat, but it isn’t something that will catch listeners off guard or alienate this release from the rest of their material. The gritty vocals that fans first fell in love with are still prominent on this release, although sometimes softened by stunning harmonies and mellow guitar work, and there are still plenty of sing-along worthy tracks - “Smoke And Lace” being one of them. Layered over dissonant guitar work are beautiful vocal harmonies and the powerful lyricism that Have Mercy is known for. As the song continues, it grows in energy, but never feels forced or fake, and this will prove to be a common theme throughout the rest of the album. Emotionally, it feels like A Place Of Our Own, but just a bit more refined and mature.
Proving Have Mercy’s versatility, the dark opener then flows effortlessly into the brighter, “Drive,” which is carried by warm guitar work and longing vocals. Now more than ever, vocalist Brian Swindle feels more connected with these songs, and the result are emotionally packed songs that will hit you like a punch to the chest. This same feeling can be found in the fourth track, “Baby Grand.” This song in particular is very soft and mellow, but Have Mercy don’t need to smack you in the face with growling vocals or high energy for you to understand the emotion behind the track. However, if fans find themselves missing those gritty vocals, “Begging For Bones” will certainly hold them over.
The middle of the album does seem to feel a little sleepy and mellow, but the songs that fill it are still powerful - it just might take a couple of listens to really get it. A standout near this point in the album is definitely the haunting, yet surprisingly warm, “Ghost.” A few songs later, “Disagree” is sure to get stuck in your head before “Good Christian Man” hits an emotional high point, showcasing a much softer and even more vulnerable side of the band. The second to last song then easily leads into the powerful closer, “You Made Me,” which will leave you longing to listen to the album all over again.
Musically, Make The Best Of It doesn’t hit as hard as those before it, but where it lacks in aggressive, high energy choruses, it makes up for with incredible guitar work, beautiful vocal harmonies and emotionally charged lyrics. This album is the perfect natural progression for Have Mercy, holding onto many of the elements that fans fell in love with to begin with, but without feeling stagnant or too different. While it might not feel possible when listening to Have Mercy’s backlog, Make The Best Of It is easily one of their more vulnerable and emotional releases yet.
Listen to "Drive" or "Disagree"
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