Have Mercy
The Love Life


2.0
poor

Review

by Jesper L. USER (21 Reviews)
August 2nd, 2019 | 54 replies


Release Date: 08/02/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Thanks, I hate it

Usually, when an album seems to be fully applicable to my existence, I love it. When Simple Plan summed up my eleven year old self’s sadness in ‘Welcome to my Life’, I adored that song. When Bring Me The Horizon expressed some general sadness and rebellion on Sempiternal, fifteen year old me couldn’t stop listening to it. Fast forward a few years, I find myself relating to Have Mercy’s fourth studio effort. However, this time I don’t enjoy this relatability whatsoever: The Love Life's constantly disappointing nature reminds me of.. my love life.

Like most of my recent romantic encounters, The Love Life starts off quite promising. Opener ‘We Ain’t Got Love’ features some pretty acoustic guitar work with vocalist Brian Swindle’s trademark rough-around-the-edges voice sounding surprisingly pleasant on top of the restrained instrumentals. However, barely a minute into the song, its chorus becomes grating after Swindle has stated that "we ain’t got love / no we never did" a dozen times. To make matters worse, about halfway through, ‘We Ain’t Got Love’ changes gears and embraces eerie synths and off-kilter drums… and somehow manages to be equal parts surprising and boring. Once the ‘wow - they tried something other than bland indie rock!’ reaction wears off, the realisation that the music simply isn’t very good sinks in. Kudos for trying, I guess.

In similar fashion, the first half of ‘Heartbeat’ sounds really pleasant, with a nice riff carrying the verse. Initially sonically similar to The Dangerous Summer’s better work, the track completely implodes once awkward, digitally produced ‘owo owo’s introduce the insanely complacent chorus. Seemingly fully aware of its underwritten nature, Swindle’s vocals are low in the mix, burying the melody and rendering any catchy quality it might have had useless.

The majority of The Love Life follows this exact formula: promising verses and awkward, questionable or straight up boring choices during choruses and bridges. It’s genuinely impressive how much potential is abandoned for these strange musical directions: ‘So Like You’ features a never-ending, hard rock inspired chorus and Swindle spends the majority of ‘Control’ breathing into the listener’s ear as if he is performing indie rock ASMR. Is Have Mercy trying to win over a stupidly niche audience, or is this album a failed attempt at trying new things while still conforming to the indie rock label? I’d put my money on the latter. Even when the band’s softer experimentation pays off on the genuinely impressive ‘Dressed Down’, the fact that the best song on a Have Mercy record is a ballad feels wrong. There is no ‘Coexist’ here, let alone a ‘Let’s Talk About Your Hair’.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about The Love Life, apart from its constant red herrings and deceptive glimmers of hope, is how consistently ‘okay’ everything sounds. Even at its most experimental, the record only gets genuinely annoying when paying close attention to the details. The buried vocals play a role in this; while masking a lack of memorable melodies, it prevents anything from grabbing the casual listener’s attention. On top of this, these production choices make it easier to ignore the lyricism, rendering everything is perfectly listenable, albeit bland. However, if you don’t ignore the lyricism, you’ll hear Swindle proclaiming that he was “making love in the front seat and I saw God” on ‘Clair’. Whatever the *** that means. After this important announcement of finding faith while shagging in a car, he states that he needs love… and follows it up by saying ‘I guess’ a grand total of eighteen times. While this could (and should) be relatable lyricism, the delivery, repetition and bland instrumentation make everything sound rather disingenuous. It’s a strange contradiction; Have Mercy make obvious attempts to tweak their sound, but fail to sound like they actually care. Another glaring example of a potentially powerful lyric being dragged down and coming off as an afterthought can be found on ‘These Streets’ when Swindle convincingly tells us that: “I’ll probably die in these sheets, I suppose”.

The Love Life is not an album that should be relatable, and, due to its low effort, insincere lyricism, it’s not. However, its constant missed opportunities due to the musician’s incompetence and fear of committing to one idea not only ruins what could have been a solid record, but also reminds me of my own, disappointing love life. Thanks, I hate it.



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user ratings (37)
2.5
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
August 2nd 2019


683 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

review is stupid but album is stupider. dammit i really wanted this to be good, i actually kind of liked make the best of it

Digging: Mumrunner - Valeriana

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2019


57224 Comments


oh my god I'm so out of the loop. I did not realize they were putting out a new record

JesperL
August 2nd 2019


683 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

judging by their spotify numbers, you're not the only one.. what a shame?

DeadBitchAlexis
August 2nd 2019


3314 Comments


I just recently relistened to their debut and it still holds up. Never got around to their other material but it doesnt seem like im missing out on much at all.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2019


25714 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

damn

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 2nd 2019


34427 Comments


Agreed, this was really bad. It was my first experience with the band, granted, but the guy's voice got on my last nerve and the lyrics were embarrassing.

Digging: Reckless Kelly - American Jackpot / American Girls

ian b
August 2nd 2019


771 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

good rev, dont even know if i wanna jam based on how i've felt about their last couple of efforts and this basically just proves their decline if anything

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM

ian b
August 2nd 2019


771 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

but Sowing, definitely jam The Earth Pushed Back, it's easily a modern emo/post-emo indie rock classic that's very overlooked. that being said though, that record was 120% lightning in a bottle

Lucman
August 3rd 2019


4210 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is really disappointing. I genuinely liked the last record. This is just so bland and listless.

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM

Observer
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2019


8004 Comments


Thought the last album was fairly weak overall, but Coexist was a real anthemic banger. Band's debut is miles above anything else they've done.

Digging: Magic Pie - Motions of Desire

stasar
August 3rd 2019


160 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

In the same boat as Sowing. I do like the tracks Let's Talk About Your Hair and Level Head, but I can't hear an echo of them now in their new stuff.

ian b
August 3rd 2019


771 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

god this record is fucking awful and like the most painful kind of awful too

Lender
August 3rd 2019


156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sowing, i think you would enjoy the fuck out of their first album. Give it a listen.

Lender
August 3rd 2019


156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I still wanna give this album a chance. I didn't dislike the singles, but they didn’t wauw me either. If this turns into a 3.0 for me I could live with that.

ian b
August 3rd 2019


771 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

don't get your hopes up, the singles are the only decent songs here. but yeah i could see The Earth Pushed Back being an easy Sowing 5, although maybe that's just my bias. that album was important to me and a close friend after we had a very pivotal relationship in our lives and god it's aged like wine even if the band is still trying to recreate it

JesperL
August 3rd 2019


683 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

tepb still rules, agreed. band should've called it quits when the eh, well, band quit

Minushuman24
August 3rd 2019


2947 Comments


This is a genuine bummer.
I saw them in Michigan in May. He mentioned how it was the largest crowd that he played in front of in years, and how it filled him with hope. He also mentioned how his heart wasn't in the game anymore and was thinking about calling it quits until that show happened. I've got to think that this album is more or less a reflection of where he was at artistically while writing.


Slex
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2019


9606 Comments


I bet this sucks hard
Boring band

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM

SlothcoreSam
August 3rd 2019


2073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

If you want something to fill the void that's been left after, The Earth Pushed Back, check

Overgrow- The Name We Share.

It's a great little EP, with elements of early Have Mercy and Brand New.



Digging: The Orphans - Raise The Youth

TheSupernatural
August 3rd 2019


2094 Comments


I was excited for this and Russian Circles and both getting bad reviews kinda bummed me out. Is this really not worth listening to at all? I checked out the first track and thought it was interesting enough



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