If the Mercy Beat‘s publicist had told me that “An Act of Mercy” was an unjustly forgotten single from a band that just missed its shot at the big time in 1987, I think I probably would have believed it. From those fuzzy, airy synths to the round reverb on the song’s brain-burrowing riff to the gulpy lead vocals, this song takes me right back to the days of Converse, Bugle Boys, and Balki Bartokomous. Speaking as someone currently peeking over the edge of 40, I quite enjoy that journey.
But wallowing in nostalgia isn’t the only reason I’m currently digging “An Act of Mercy.” There’s a fine art to distilling one’s influences this aggressively — it isn’t enough to evoke the sounds of the acts you love, unless you’re using them to pursue something fresh in the bargain, and at least judging from this track, the Mercy Beat have a tight grip on the fundamentals of Pop Songwriting 101. “An Act of Mercy” is spilling over with hooks, all coming at you in waves: the aforementioned riff, the insistent background vocals, a killer pre-chorus that’s liable to make pop fiends laugh out loud the first time they hear it.
Plus, it has a good beat. You know, one you can dance to.
The group’s debut record will be out this summer, and based on “An Act of Mercy,” I’m eager to listen — and if they can somehow manage to sustain the balancing act they’ve pulled off here over the course of an entire record, I think I’ll be listening a lot.