Released: May Genre: Rock / Emo Metacritic Rating: N/A
I’ve made a lot of tough decisions this year, but choosing my favourite record of 2013 was blissfully easy. In a year in which I finished college and found myself at a troubling crossroads in my life The Earth Pushed Back was there to soundtrack some of my best and worst moments, and it complemented them brilliantly. Have Mercy’s excellent debut album was the first record I reviewed on this blog and the only one I’ve given 10/10 since doing so. Before setting up this site I was torn as to whether I could commit and put my views out there on such a big platform being a normally reserved individual, but I heard The Earth Pushed Back and all I wanted to do was share it with people. Granted, only thirty people have read my initial review, but considering I found the album through a single tweet back in May maybe one of those thirty people went and enjoyed it as much as I did, which is immensely. There’ve been a lot of releases I’ve wanted to wish upon people this year, but there’ve been none I wanted to spread as widely as The Earth Pushed Back. The band’s first full-length and first release on Topshelf Records is nothing short of a triumph which embodies everything I love about music, and it’s a shame it received as little press as it did. The Earth Pushed Back deserves so much more, as it’s probably the best album I’ve heard since The ‘59 Sound by The Gaslight Anthem for a number of reasons. It’s as close to perfect as I could ever expect an album to be, packed with emotion, character and ultimately talent. The way the band address a failed relationship is poetry for the most part as vocalists Brian Swindle’s and Andrew Johnson’s differing styles clash with equal amounts of charismatic passion. Subtle bass complements the darker moments and the drumming is either exuberant of reserved, matching each tone sublimely. Throw in clever guitar melodies and explosive crescendos and the album manages to convey feelings through its instrumentals as well as it does as through its vocals. Ultimately, that’s what The Earth Pushed Back is, and what makes it so appealing – it’s an album absolutely brimming with emotion, unlike any I’ve heard . Very few artists pour their soul out enough to impact their material in the way Have Mercy do and as a result The Earth Pushed Back is harrowing; painful and touching, leaving a mark on the listener that still exists months after hearing it and will for years. You feel everything, and it makes the Baltimore band’s debut an incredibly special record. Lyrically, vocally, instrumentally, everything just blends perfectly to create a stunning depiction of emotion in its purest musical form.
The Earth Pushed Back is an album that matters, and just writing about tracks like ‘This Old Ark’ and ‘Level Head’ gives me goosebumps. Huge anthems like ‘Weak At The Knees’ and ‘Lets Talk About Your Hair’ are two of the most memorable and affecting songs I’ve heard this year, with massive choruses delivered with heartfelt honesty and intensity (especially the former). Songs like ‘Hell’ and ‘Cigarettes And Old Perfume’ unfold majestically, starting slow and ending in gorgeously moving climaxes, whilst even the slow burning ‘Living Dead’ packs a punch by presenting emotion in a much more stripped back and raw environment, adding in female vocals and distancing itself from the lofty aggressive passion of the preceding tracks. No matter the style, The Earth Pushed Back delivers on all fronts, leading the listener by the hand on a journey through a pained mind, covering love, heartbreak, anger and blissful nostalgia in the process. It’s an experience which ends with the impassioned ‘When I Sleep’, which is a truly stunning conclusion to a remarkable album. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the beauty of it all, that song especially, and it’s thoroughly entertaining and twice as absorbing. The Earth Pushed Back is a living, breathing body of work that unashamedly feels much more than the majority of people allow themselves to. It’s incredibly moving whilst exhilarating, and I can’t praise it enough. I look back, and I remember hearing Deja Entendu for the first time and being absolutely hooked. It was a feeling I felt after hearing The Gaslight Anthem’s second album and one I felt again last year with On The Impossible Past by The Menzingers. I felt it most of all with The Earth Pushed Back, and I’ve never fallen in love with an album so quickly.
I could talk about Have Mercy’s emphatic debut and what it means to me for days, although I’d have to stop occasionally to reacquaint myself and enjoy it all over again. The Earth Pushed Back is a wondrous record, and I feel incredibly sorry for those who’ve missed out on it this year because there hasn’t been an album released in 2013 that’s come anywhere near matching it.