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Have Mercy

Mooney Suzuki

2007

Growing older definitely has it's downsides.  Fading looks, health issues, decrease in energy, hair growing in odd places, and the general feeling that with each passing year, you are getting one step closer to meeting your maker and one step further away from the days of your youth.  

Yes, getting old may suck, but with age also comes wisdom, and an ever growing appreciation for the days of your youth that you used to take for granted.

These thoughts seemed to be weighing heavily on the mind of guitarist and vocalist Sammie Davis Jr. on what turned out to the Mooney Suzuki's last album: Have Mercy.  For a band that was primarily known for their raucous garage-rock/Rolling Stones-esq sound, Have Mercy is surprisingly quite reflective and endearing in tone compared to their prior releases. 

The change in sound can largely be attributed to the band going through some difficult times during the recording of the album.  Their guitar player's father died and their bass player and drummer dropped out of the band for a short-time, leaving Sammie Davis Jr alone to write the majority of the album.  Eventually, their original guitar player and drummer rejoined the band in time to record the album, and the result is the sound of a rejuvenated, reborn band, boasting a fuller, more mature sound.

The album kicks-off with the righteous "99%" which is triumphant and celebratory in vibe, definitely starting off the album on the right foot.  The Mooney Suzuki cook up an infectious blend of rock & roll with a whole lotta soul on this opening track, which is always a great combination.  "This Broke Heart of Mine" follows, sporting a down-home quality that sets the tone for the rest of the album.  An endearing tale of a bitter-sweet breakup, this track has a heart of gold that ends on an optimistic note: "once we were best of friends, maybe we'll be again, pair of rocking chairs, in the shade".

The next track "Adam & Eve" continues the endearing vibe of the prior track, but with a more yearning vibe.  Sammie's singing takes on a somewhat resigned tone, longing to find a love like "Adam & Eve" but resigned to the reality that a perfect true love is certainly hard to find.  "Ashes to Ashes" continues that vibe, another great song about the heartbreak of breakups, set to the metaphor of the changing of the seasons.

All of these songs are catchy as hell, with great sing-along choruses and rock-solid structure, all the while managing to still sound fresh and authentic.  They definitely have an accessible, pop-rock quality to them, but they also have integrity and soul, cancelling out any negatives associated with their poppy nature.

Perhaps the most poppy song on the album is "Rock n' Roller Girl", but again, because of it's reflective tone, it comes across as sweet and endearing.  The next track, "First Comes Love" continues the reflective tone, telling the timeless tale of two young lovers and the cycle of love and complication that befalls all young couples.  Sammie sings these songs with fondness and affection, adding to their endearing qualities.

After the soulful and rocking title track, the listener is treated to one of the best songs about drinking ever recorded: "Good Ol' Alcohol".  Ranking right up there with any of George Thurogood's classics, "Good Ol Alcohol" is a hilarious, blue-grassed flavored salute to that tried and true drug of choice for so many people: booze.  It's certainly an entertaining and fun song. 

After that festive number, the Mooney Suzuki save their 2 best songs on the album for last, with "Prime of Life" and "Down But Not Out".  "Prime of Life" takes the endearing and reflective vibe that permeates most of Have Mercy to it's emotional summit.  Beautiful, wise, sweet, somber and philosophical in tone, the song means a lot to me personally, and has a borderline magical quality to it.  It's got an all-encompassing, classic quality to it, and is definitely of the most sublime songs on the album.

"Down But Not Out" closes out the album with the Mooney Suzuki's classic, down-home, heart-of-gold charm.  A somewhat somber song with an optimistic message, it's a great way to finish a very heart-felt, endearing album.

Have Mercy has a special, mature, coming-of-age quality to it that probably caught a lot of their fanbase off guard.  This album was largely dismissed or ignored in the indie-rock community, as by the time 2007 had come around, the whole garage-rock revival thing was old news and the Mooney Suzuki were part of a dying breed.

But that's probably what makes this album so good.  The trend was dead, so these boys just got together and made a genuine and endearing rock & roll album about coming of age and celebrating the glory years of bygone days.  It's a great album with a heart of gold, and one that is certainly cemented in my eyes as one of the best of the 2000s.

8.9

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