Album Review: Have Mercy – The Love Life

User Rating: 7.4

O V E R V I E W

It’s important for people to realize that perception is not reality. What we perceive of someone is based on what we see or our interactions with those people, usually from afar. There’s so much that goes on in someones life on a daily basis that you will truly never know what’s happening within them, even if it’s someone you live with. I truly think that most people associate perception with reality, especially in regards to people who are famous or have “made it”, because it allows them a chance to escape and dream of lavish lifestyles full of things that they wish they had. After spending a grinding 7 months on their previous album Make The Best Of ItHave Mercy released their third album to much acclaim, with people feeling like they finally found the right balance of what would set them off on a course of success and growth. However, for those who saw the band perform or interacted with them after a set in the years since then, a lingering feeling came across that not only was that successful course hitting some extremely turbulent times, the vulnerability and sadness of being stuck in a bad place was taking hold. With such an emotional mindstate at the forefront, the band set out to create their new album with producer Matt Squire and forgoed the delicate and intricate nature they previously applied and let the raw reality of the situation set in and take hold, crafting an 11-song album that the world will know as The Love Life.

Genre: Indie Rock / Emo
Label: Hopeless Records
Release: August 2, 2019
Connect: Facebook | Twitter
Purchase: iTunes | Google Play

F L O W  /  L O N G E V I T Y  /  O R I G I N A L I T Y

When I sit down and put an album on, one of the first things that sticks out to me during the first playthrough is the overall flow of the record. It may not have the same immediate impact that pre-release singles have, but it’s an important driver of whether or not an album will sit at the top of my list or slowly fade into the pool of albums that I think about listening to again, but rarely do. This is where I find my biggest personal struggles with The Love Life; sonically it’s a rather scattered approach of soft undertones and heavy content that doesn’t quite find the right balance with the underlying instrumentation, resulting in what I felt were songs put together as more of a compilation rather than a full fledged album. On the originality front, it’d be a disservice to not mention that Have Mercy have definitely seemed to step out of their comfort zone as they explore different sounds that aren’t atypical of their discography, embracing different stylistic changes from song to song. It’s definitely a Have Mercy record, but it sounds different, breathing a bit of new life into the more indie / emo driven sound they’re known for.

Have Mercy – Heartbeat (Official Music Video)

►Pre-order the new album ‘The Love Life’: http://smarturl.it/TheLoveLife ►Vinyl and merch available at http://smarturl.it/HaveMercyMerch ►Tour dates and tickets: http://bandsintown.com/havemercy ►Listen to “Heartbeat” and more by Have Mercy on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TheLoveLife/spotify — The official music video for “Heartbeat,” the new single off Have Mercy’s upcoming album ‘The Love Life,’ out August 2nd on Hopeless Records!

V O C A L S  /  I N S T R U M E N T A T I O N

Ah, vocals…this is an interesting aspect of The Love Life that will most likely cause people to either love it or hate it. Brian Swindle is a great vocalist who has such a raspy, raw and restrained delivery that really strikes the chord for this type of sound. It’s this natural sound and approach that drives home what Have Mercy is trying to convey the most throughout The Love Life, yet at the same time, it also can become a tad overdone. It becomes repetitive as there isn’t much range to be found, giving off a very constant and consistent approach — for some, they will ultimately find great enjoyment out of that and for others, it causes their feelings on the record to be more complacent. Still, the range that is there beautifully balances with the underlying instrumentation and thematic undertones and is truly a brilliant display for a specific sound. And speaking of the instrumentation, Have Mercy truly did step up out of their comfort zone as the sounds have expanded from their more driven indie rock base into something new, with pop influences, well-placed haunting synths and different tempos, breathing new air into their style.

C O M P O S I T I O N  /  P R O D U C T I O N

This is where The Love Life becomes a conundrum to me; the thematic undertones are brilliantly on display through well crafted verses that listeners will easily fall in love with, causing a flow of emotions to sweep over them. It’s this pure emotional, real life rollercoaster of the outcomes of love and life with its heartache, vulnerability and disappointment that grabs you and shakes you to your very core. It does exactly what Have Mercy meant to do…but it feels like it goes too far. It causes The Love Life to be a very moody and dark in a non-explicit way album that ultimately gives off a vibe that the band wanted to focus more on the emotion than any particular music or structure, thus tying back to the difficulties I found with the overall flow.

Have Mercy – Clair (Visual)

►Pre-order the new album ‘The Love Life’: http://smarturl.it/TheLoveLife ►Vinyl and merch available at http://smarturl.it/HaveMercyMerch ►Tour dates and tickets: http://bandsintown.com/havemercy ►Listen to “Clair” and more by Have Mercy on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TheLoveLife/spotify — The official music video for “Clair,” the new single off Have Mercy’s upcoming album ‘The Love Life,’ out August 2nd on Hopeless Records!

F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

When it comes to The Love Life, it’s an admittedly different experience than the billboard-charting Make The Best Of It, and conceptually is a great idea as striving for different and bold is my preference as I’m sure it’s many others. There is a side effect to that though, and whether it’s deemed good or bad is ultimately up to each and every listener, but this is a very moody album that I believe requires you to be in a specific state of mind or moment in time to really appreciate its nuances and undertones. For those not finding themselves attached to the album, think about revisiting it later on at a different moment in your life when the thematic approach of the album is much more applicable to the situation, just like it was for Have Mercy, and then you may find yourself having different feelings in regards to it.

Summary
Have Mercy took a new approach to their album creation process and the resulting The Love Life is a mixed bag. The highs are high and showcase different directions the band could ultimately end up going in, but the message behind the album causes it to be a real downer that doesn't vibe in the same way as their previous efforts.
Good
  • Brian Swindles vocals may have a pretty similar tone, but they really fit the music and them perfectly
  • A different approach was taken to the album creation process which opened up the instrumental side of the band
Bad
  • The overall album flow has an offputting vibe
  • While new directions were taken instrumentally, the album feels familiar in part because of its theme and mood
7.4
Good
Vocals - 10
Instrumentation - 7
Originality - 6
Longevity - 7
Flow - 6
Production - 8
Composition - 8

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