After the worldwide lockdown began in March 2020, Baltimore indie emo quartet Have Mercy decided to throw in the towel for the band four albums deep into their career. Seeing the world through a fresh lens, frontman Brian Swindle’s life then took a whole new turn. After getting sober and engaged, he started writing songs that would reintroduce the band and their growth through some of the craziest years in recent history. The new self-titled EP via ZODHIAC Records showcases Swindle’s progression with a more upbeat sound.
Kicking off with the shining synths of ‘I’m Gonna Be OK’, the band lets the comforting aura of the EP be known straight away to prove themselves capable of more than your typical emo rock. Swindle sings of bettering himself to make for a better future with his love, and that dedication and sincerity is clear-cut through each hopeful lyric and melody.
Following track ‘SIO (Spit It Out)’ is carried by its crooned verses and rippling guitars that spark a fiery passion throughout the song. The satisfying guitar lines and the harmony they add to Swindle’s lower register is enough on its own to give it some replay value. If the chorus was a little less repetitive and predictable, this could be a frontrunner for sure.
The primarily acoustic ‘Marry Me’ sounds like something you could’ve heard on the lighter side of MTV in the early 2000s. It’s a good song for when you need some easy listening or calm background music, but if you’re craving something a bit more interesting, then maybe skip this one. ‘I’ll Wait’ shares the vibe with a brighter, more high-energy approach and motivational feel. And then there’s the beaming closer ‘Strawberry Hill’, which, to be honest, I mistook for Paramore’s ‘My Heart’ upon first listen of the intro. Similarities aside, the rumbling chorus and Swindle’s passionate delivery make for a strong wrap-up to the band’s returning release.
Though it’s not the most creatively groundbreaking record, Have Mercy hits the sentimental mark of lyrically moving songs that present the upward spiral Swindle has fought through for the last couple years. The question is whether the band will continue on this more pop rock-leaning road or keep hanging onto their emo roots.
6 / 10