Whether we like it or not, society tends to judge people based more on their highest highs and lowest lows compared to the full spectrum of accomplishments that those same people obtain throughout their entire life. This isn’t a knock against any one particular person; it’s that when it boils down to it, everyone seems to remember the winners or losers, but not the opponents along the way. If you were to look at music with this mindset, along with the obvious – successful and memorable albums — it’s the trials and tribulations that musicians encounter along their way that they tend to be remembered for most. Baltimore rock band Have Mercy now know about these peaks and valleys all too well as their previous outing, A Place of Our Own resulted from unprecedented pressure and expectations while their new album, Make The Best of It comes after profound change in not only lead singer Brian Swindle’s personal life, but in band makeup as well. Even still, Have Mercy have preserved and the end result is an album that not only strikes the right chord, but one that shows there is a massive future in store for the band.
It’s rather common knowledge that albums generally aren’t created overnight as they combine months of pre-production, notes and thought processes, Make The Best of It is the outcome of a rather tumultuous 7-month period for Have Mercy. Swindle wanted the album to be the best representation of what the band represented, sonically and lyrically, and in order to do so, let the essence of Have Mercy guide the composition which led to the scrapping of an entire album’s worth of music. The end result is an entirely different album from what was originally conceived and was written while in the studio with producers Paul Leavitt (All Time Low) and Brian McTernan (Thrice). While fans may never hear anything from the original vision for the bands third album, know that it was for the best as the result is an absolute masterclass in pushing past the notion of settling for “good enough” and instead reaching a level of perfection obtained through natural growth.
Fans and newcomers alike got their first taste of this desire for perfection from the lead single, “Coexist”, which is an absolute ear worm of a song that sets up the album perfectly with its emotional and relatable message as Swindle declares “I’m not the person you knew” deep into the chorus. This is but a mere glimpse of the gloom and melancholic atmosphere that’s established throughout the whole of Make The Best of It as tracks like “Reaper” showcase a rather grim ideology of killing his ex’s new boyfriend. Following that is “Ghost”, which opts for a much more somber showcase sonically that soars over the plucking of a guitar and soft-sung vocals before crescendoing with the full backing of the whole band. These differing moments of utilizing the songwriting to truly guide the path the sound takes are what help the true essence of Have Mercy shine through and take centerstage as they envelop listeners into the world of Make The Best of It, right alongside the band as they pour their blood, sweat and tears into crafting the best album of their career thus far.
There are many aspects that go into the creation of an album and while Make The Best of It was the result of self-reflection and strenuous circumstances, the reality is that the album is far better off because of it. Have Mercy’s desire of going past the “good enough” threshold and striving for a level of perfection was not only the right decision, but one that was reached with relative ease. This desire enhances the gut-wrenching lyrics, the raw and impassioned vocal delivery and the beautifully composed instrumentation resulting in something that is not only beautiful in its peaks, but in its faults as well. It’s this desire that delivers an album that will not just give listeners chills as the passion pours out of every note played and sung, but gives people a record that feels like it’s talking to them directly, establishing that there are others that have gone through turmoil in their day to day lives and that it eventually becomes better once again.