They hail from Washington DC, they name their first song after their home state and their songs have that breezy quality which seem destined to be heard whilst cruising down endless freeways. Yet as the The Mercy Alliance’s latest album develops, those images of carefree days on the open road quickly subside and the melancholic side of the band begins to shine through.
Sure, the opening ‘Washington’ immediately speaks of freedom and freeways within the sighed vocals, warm basslines and ringing guitars. It’s the kind of tune which make you think this is the season of sunshine (as I write this in the middle of a British winter). ‘Angel Of Mercy’ and ‘All For The Love In You’ pile on heavier, truly driving guitars and propulsive rhythms but the infectious chorus hook (“Everybody’s trying to tell me. Some kind of beautiful story” for the former) ensures the summery outlook continues.
Then something very interesting happens. ‘Moving In Time’ and ‘This Is How They Know’ mark a change in pace; the former being a slightly eerie offering and it’s the first of several songs which echo the latter days of The Comsat Angels, as does a snarling country-inflected ‘Libertine’. Finally, by the time of the wonderfully subtle finale ‘Drifting In’ (“broken radio, static frequencies. I sit and watch you go”), the feeling of freedom has been replaced with a tangible sense of loss.
Given the radio-friendly quality of their material, it’s surprising The Mercy Alliance aren’t better known. Furthermore, as well as the acknowledged American influences which inform ‘Some Kind Of Beautiful’, there’s a real depth and introspection to this album which becomes ever more apparent as the story unfolds.
The Comsat Angels, Wilco