Las Vegas-based pop-punk outfit Mercy Music return with their unvanquished new album What You Stand To Lose out today via Double Helix Records/SBÄM Records.
Following the release of 2020’s Nothing in the Dark, which was produced by Cameron Webb (Alkaline Trio/Motörhead), What You Stand To Lose is Mercy Music’s fourth full-length album since their formation in 2014. After nearly a decade of musicianship and camaraderie, the band sounds every bit like the seasoned veterans they now are, with all the ambition of a new band proving their worth.
Produced by Bill Stevenson – known for his work with Descendents, ALL, and Black Flag at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado – and mixed by Jason Livermore (Descendents, Propagandhi, NOFX, Hot Water Music), What You Stand To Lose sees the band finding inspiration in the fact that nothing should be taken for granted, no time should be wasted, and there is everything in the world to lose by not collectively fighting hard enough to succeed.
“What You Stand To Lose is about coming face to face with one of your worst fears, learning from the experience, and hoping you come out the other side a better person,” says vocalist and guitarist Brendan Scholz who penned each of the album’s tracks.
Across the course of 11 tracks, the band lean into their pop-punk rudiments, while incorporating hard-hitting elements that fall in the vein of classic punk acts. Tapping Stevenson for production aids in their efforts and brings out an unreserved side to the band that truly encapsulates the spirit of the record.
With the year’s reemergence of doyens of pop-punk, such as Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance who returned to the stage after years of hiatus, Mercy Music are the genre’s answer to immediacy, gut-punching punk that feels as liberating as it does painful.
On the majority of the album, Scholz, bassist Jarred Cooper, and drummer Rye Martin bring forth a joint and mostly jovial sound, weaving bright guitar chords with peppy percussion. It’s the lyrical content that stands out as the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Presenting as accessible pop-rock numbers, there is a lurking darkness beneath the surface.
Opening track “Suddenly” unveils the band in a cheerful state as they place bets on themselves to succeed. A hopeful testament to their tenacity, the track feels both refreshing and consequential to the tracks that follow.
The album’s first single “Love You/Need You” is deceiving emotional, narrating the process of coming terms with a love that is no longer reciprocal, all atop ultra-catchy melodies with pop sensibilities and the urgency of pop-punk staples.
The rhythmic “Undone” leads the perfect transition into “Fine” which leaps across its peppy time signature and profuse energy. With a blistering guitar solo, it invigorates the album at its midpoint and captures the band’s impressive drive.
Powerfully sludgy single “Found Out I’m Useless” feels timeless and radical, as it flips the toxic notion of gaslighting on its head, jabbing one’s own faults with a sarcastic quip. Starting off with gentle vocals atop a strummed acoustic guitar, it erupts into a building sound that’s equal parts Weezer and Descendents, but like every other track, entirely original to Mercy Music.
Emotionally spent, the album concludes on the darkly optimistic note of “Waiting to Begin,” an ode to renewal and second chances. For an album that reflects on many monumental changes in the band’s personal lives, it plays as a universal reminder of life’s uncertainties.
Unleashing a spectrum of emotions, the album is a capsule of life events— the bliss, the love, the heartache, the anger, the aftermath, and most poignantly, the reinvention. For those feeling like their world is flipped upside down and struggling to come to term with facing your fears, What You Stand To Lose is your guiding light.