Recommended Tracks: “Suddenly”, “Undone”, “Found Out I’m Useless”
Artists You May Like: The All-American Rejects, Rise Against, Bad Religion
Music is one of the best forms of expression, the sounds and the lyrics able to convey emotions and moods that can easily be picked up by the masses. To convey love, for instance, we may be treated to a sweet string motif adorned with light pop melodies and crooning vocals. For anger, thrashing drums and screaming guitars may do the trick. For heartbreak, deep vocals and heavy piano could get us in our feelings. There are many ways to get the message across, even ways we may not expect. If you check out Mercy Music’s fourth studio album, What You Stand to Lose, you will come across the pop punk band’s ability to pair pessimistic lyrics with optimistic melodies, showing that one feeling or one emotion contains multitudes.
Between What You Stand to Lose and the band’s previous album from 2020, Nothing in the Dark, lead vocalist and guitarist Brendan Scholz had his world “flipped upside down.” While he could have created an album that focused on the negatives, he set out to create a project that inspires growth. The first part of this process includes an acceptance of what happened. Throughout the album, Brendan takes the blame, which comes with a need to feel hurt. Tracks like “Undone” and “Fine” focus on self-sabotage and self-destruction, with Brendan admitting that he had problematic tendencies. On the rock ballad “Found Out I’m Useless,” he sings, “You’ve given up on me / I don’t blame you,” finding a connection between his tendencies and the wrongdoing. He allows himself to be the one at fault, and with “Total Nightmare,” he is ready to remove himself from the picture. He shares, “I’ll be gone so you can have your time,” as a way to salvage the situation.
The next part of the growth process deals with an understanding of current events. On the opening track “Suddenly,” Brendan observes his current habits. Over spunky guitar riffs and soaring melodies, he sings, “Suddenly, I can’t avoid this / Apparently, I can’t enjoy things all alone,” unsure how to process the change. He even finds himself wondering if anything he felt in the past was real on the eclectic offering “Real,” which briefly taps into some questions he still asks, the fluent melody changes representing his fleeting changes in thought. He tries to find solace through his work on “What’s the Use,” but he seems detached and uninterested. In the end, he concludes, “When life burns down around you and loves moves on without you / You can watch me drown peacefully,” on “Watch Me Drown,” making it clear that he is struggling.
Finally, in order to grow, you have to let go. There are a few moments on the album when Brendan comes out on the other side, able to leave the past in the past. On “Love You/Need You,” he asks, “Do you want me to say I love you / Say I need you / Like you always do?” his carefree attitude emphasized by the rowdy pop punk production. That in-your-face sound comes through again on “Believe in We,” where Brendan sings, “I believe in all your hopes and dreams,” wanting closure. There is more closure on the final track “Waiting to Begin,” which exchanges a rebellious pop punk sound for one that is more compliant and minimal. Along with such quiet accompaniment, we get lines like, “Bleed me out and draw me in / I’m waiting to begin,” the loneliness almost giving permission to start again.
All in all, What You Stand to Lose takes into account the aftermath of a life-changing situation, from the time that change occurs to the time when it subsides. As Brendan breaks down how he feels, he channels those thoughts into positive-sounding songs that permit a “grow from it” spirit. The pessimistic lyrics are countered by the busy drum and guitar riffs and the easy-going vocals, showing that one emotion or feeling can be expressed in a variety of ways. In the end, all the songs sound positive and hopeful, bringing us to a statement previously expressed by bassist Jarred Cooper. When talking about the album, Jarred said, “When people listen to our new album, I want them to feel happy, sad, inspired, and depressed. Then I want them to feel happy again. That last part is critically important.”
You can listen to What You Stand to Lose on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.