Mercy Music Bleeds Genius Through Microphones and Amplifiers on New Album What You Stand To Lose
The brand new album from Mercy Music, What You Stand To Lose, is the band’s fourth album, and it is as good as anything they have ever put out, if not even better.
My initial reaction is that it is the best album they have put out, but I also said that about their last album when I first heard it, and I don’t think any album is anything less than fantastic.
So, why am I so high on this album versus their past releases?
Firstly, it has JUST as many great songs and singles that are easily there to rock out to like “Suddenly” and “Love You/Need You” which are the first two songs off the album and two of the singles that they have released to promote the album.
Secondly, this album has two of their past hits “Undone” and “Fine” re-recorded to make this an absolutely complete album for anyone who has never heard of the band before.
Thirdly, this album has lead singer Brendan Scholz’s emotions splattered all over it, and whether it is meant to be or not, the album is basically a concept album which makes throwing two songs from their past on here even more intriguing.
The album is heartbreaking and hopeful, and it still absolutely rips.
But I would say that this isn’t just an album. This is art.
This is like reading a Charles Baudelaire poem, or like looking at a Pablo Picasso painting. This is love torn to pieces and transposed into a brilliant moment in time.
Pain. Heartbreak. Uptempo beat. Happy hook. Cool guitar riff. Breakdown. Pain. Heartbreak. Repeat.
I won’t say that this is a formula for their songs, but this is a big generalization into what you can expect from Mercy Music, and it is deeper, darker, more present on What You Stand to Lose (which is another clue to the concept).
And watching the music videos will explain more as well. Even when they are being light-hearted, it is just self-therapy to get through tough times.
I don’t know that Mercy Music has ever truly written a Shakespeare like love song. In fact, Scholz seems to do exactly the opposite.
These songs are about self-sabotage, rejection, spiraling, and they come out as lethal injections to love songs in general.
You would never know it from the catchy hooks and uptempo music throughout, but the whole record is just pain hiding under a three-piece rock facade.
I won’t speak to the specifics of what is happening in the record, but let’s just say there is a common theme threading the whole album together (hence, why I say it is almost a concept album).
The album cracks off right away with the banger “Suddenly.”
The song jumps right into the chorus after a small guitar intro, and the guitars on this track are both straight fire, and this is definitely going to be a song that the band will have in their live show for a while.
I always have to give props to the rhythm section of Rye Martin on drums and Jarred Cooper on bass who both are flawless almost all the time, and Cooper really put in the work on this album to create some incredible bass lines that hit perfectly and Martin always packs a punch and pounds out percussive perfection.
If you really want to catch some cream of the crop guitar work, you definitely want to check out “Love You/Need You” as Scholz blisters with one of the best riffs in this song as well as blazes a solo that only a virtuoso like himself can create.
“Love You/Need You” kicks off the deeper pain in the album though as it is definitely not a song about being happy, and it bleeds right into “REAL” which gets even more personal for Scholz.
He’s writing about a struggle that by the end of the album becomes a “Total Nightmare” (the name of the second to last track).
The words in “Believe in We” may give some clues as to what’s going on throughout the writing of this album though:
And JUST as this album gets incredibly personal, the band sticks those two past hits “Undone” and “Fine” into the mix just to almost bookend how prophetic Scholz’s own words are.
The rerecording of these songs are absolute mastery too, and I really love Scholz’s guitar on “Fine” as it is just noodly chaos in parts and then blues-rock scales mixed with Eddie Van Halen trills in the last solo of the song.
The second side of the album may go down as one of the most artfully done punk-based, rock albums of all time.
Kicking off with the song “Watch Me Drown” and going into “Found Out I’m Useless” is about as perfect of a two-song swing as I have heard in my life.
Oh, and if that isn’t enough, the last two songs “Total Nightmare” and “Waiting to Begin” are soul-crushing and wrap this whole “shit sandwich” of a struggle into a beautifully crafted musical masterpiece. Seriously. You would be quite hard-pressed to find a better full album out in the wild than this album.
The band recorded this whole album in 10 days at The Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson, and while Scholz has idolized Stevenson for most of his life, he finally got to work with him and get guidance to push him and the rest of the band to their limits of what they could make.
This album proves that there are bands that you have never heard of that create music that is better than almost everything you have ever heard.