Mercy Arms Shine a Light
Who are Mercy Arms? Often I’ll discover a new band or musician through their association with musicians I already love. Menomena turned me onto The National. The Twelves turned me onto Zeigeist. Mercy Arms have toured with the likes of Cut Copy, Editors, and have recorded with Dave Sitek (of the ever-awesome TV on the Radio).
This understated band has been quietly making a name for themselves, hailing from Sydney. At first listen they may remind you of Skeleton Jar Youth Group or Sparkadia. But there’s something bolder about Mercy Arms. In walking a fine line between ambitious rock and patient romantic melodies, Mercy Arms produce a debut full of variety.
In particular there is, at times, a careless throw-away with the use of vocals which reminds me, surprisingly, of The Pixies. This may be why Mercy Arms have toured with The Pixies themselves.
Funnily enough between the days of The Pixies and Mercy Arms lies Radiohead and their musician-followers. One of my favourite bands of all time, Radiohead look fondly on The Pixies but have become more accessible due to (I believe) their melodic vocal arrangement and experimenting with electronica.
Mercy Arms sputter their romantic chivalry with more reverence for the guitar solos than the vocals and it works. While they’re clearly more than capable of managing melodic catchy pop in songs like “Footsteps” and “To Me now,” it is the cacophonous confidence of “Shine a Light Down” (which sounds a lot like old Living End) which lends a forgotten ear to the rebels and poets that preceded musician fans of Radiohead.
The outstanding song here is “Caroline” which looks to The Pixies for influence, and draws the listener back to the ninties when rock momentarily flourished before being snuffed out by acoustic electronica.
Mercy Arms may very well keep a lot of the current popsters from forgetting their roots’ roots.