Lyrically speaking, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Have Mercy’s Brian Swindle and Conor Oberst or Elliott Smith. Their songwriting is immaculate, their stories are relatable and their tragedy feels as if it’s happening to a close loved one. The truth is, Have Mercy shouldn’t be compared to anybody, whether that’s a forerunner or a contemporary. The Love Life stands beautifully on its own two feet, boasting and somehow balancing haunting moments (“We Ain’t Got Love”) with the simple joys of beach drinking alongside friends (“40oz”), the ladder being perhaps the best of the eleven song album. Have Mercy’s fourth and most dynamic record to date, is also a strong contender for best of 2019. The Love Life isn’t all missing memories and melancholy however, “Claire” and “Heartbeat” are as radio ready as they get, while “So Like You” amps up the 90’s flavor angst of any solid one hit wonder playlist. Tracks like “These Streets” and closer “8006 Hedgeway CT.” anchor the album in the reality that Swindle feels more deeply than your average storyteller. While the listener is happy to be brought along the journeys mapped out on The Love Life, a few of the songs, such as those mentioned above, evoke a lovely uncomfortability, a warning that though we have been invited, we may not truly belong.
Swindle has always had this innate ability to make you feel like you’re in his stories, voyeuristically peering into each and every one of his arguments, heartbreaks and ocean side hangouts. You long to be witness to these taught and intense moments, if only to simply better understand a genius record such as this. The Love Life is a record of longing, and their best to date, seamlessly building on A Place of Our Own but accurately, graciously and timelessly growing up.