Mercy Arms
Mercy Arms



by StreetlightRock EMERITUS
August 28th, 2008 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The bastard love child of Sigur Ros and the Klaxons? Close, but not quite.

The Mercy Arms deserve to be hit. Not hard perhaps, but firmly. After becoming one of the most hyped bands on the Sydney indie circuit, they decided to release their debut in the shadow Van She’s even more hyped V. Which is a pity, because Mercy Arms is such a dreadfully good record.

As first tracks so often do, Down Here, So Long sets the tone for the album, combining the two elements that make the Mercy Arms so deliciously good - their love for delicate and enveloping ‘room of echoes’ sounds together with the oh-so-fashionable and contemporary British dance-pop sounds. Reverb laden, tremolo-picked guitar pearls wind their way around the bands seductive indie-dance drum thumps while vocalist Thom Moore young voice croons among the best of them. Widening as it progresses, with a pulsing beat of steady drums and breaking into anthemic cries of ‘wooahhohoh’, it’s a wonderful opening that so brilliantly captures the sounds of the Mercy Arms.

It’s telling perhaps that band member Kirin Callinan credited not only for ‘guitar’, but ‘noise’, with airy walls of dreamy-pop saturating Mercy Arms with ambience a la My Bloody Valentine, most tellingly on tracks like Footsteps and Caroline. Never forgetting however, their debt to their more dancy influences, Shine A Light is a throwback to the fading era when The Killers and The Arctic Monkeys reigned over the airwaves, even throwing in a rockabilly/jazz riff, a creepy spoken word verse and a barrage of ‘Hoo-Haa-Hoo-Haha’ chanting just because… well… they can.

And this is perhaps what makes Mercy Arms so successful. It’s almost easy to catalog the sounds which make an appearance here, with its Attitude dripping with the vogue of British dance-pop, it’s quality drawing from American shoegaze rock and an atmosphere that revels among continental post-rock. It’d then perhaps be tempting to characterize the band as a sort of bastard love child of Sigur Ros and the Klaxons, but doing this would only be an exercise in ignoring the rich Sydney indie scene from which the Mercy Arms were born from. While the Mercy Arms revolve among the orbit of bands like Ghostwood, Expatriate and Teenagersintokyo, they epitomize the ‘pretty’, ‘atmospheric’ strain of the Sydney scene (See, I described them for you, don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging dear non-Australians), unlike their contemporaries Van She, who represent the more radio friendly electro-pop renaissance which Sydney has so readably embraced.

Geographical music lessons aside, although the Mercy Arms safely claim their crown at the forefront of a expanding but marginalized music scene, the album nevertheless mediates within a safe distance of all their disparate but distinctive sounds, never stretching its wings to hit dizzying highs, instead comfortable and safe within their subtle disco-ball lit cubby hole. Certainly, there’s dynamism here, but it’s a constrained one, and even in its most ‘extreme’ moments of branching out (and Shine A Light is just that), nothing is too unexpected or chillingly original.

Nevertheless, Mercy Arms is much more than simply a ‘promising’ debut. It’s a damn good debut. Executed with skill and finesse, its falls down only because it the Mercy Arms know very well they’ve stumbled onto something a gem of a sound, and are a little hesitant to let go of it sometimes. But when what you’ve got is so pretty, why let go"


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user ratings (3)

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 28th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

First good thing I've written in agess. Enjoy.

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

August 28th 2008


hmm I'll give this a spin

September 14th 2008


Nice review, dude.

Awesome album, saw them at Oxford Arts the other night and they were pretty amazing.This Message Edited On 10.16.08

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