Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

Ours: ‘Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy)’

Scott Bressler

Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy)

Rating: 4/5

For fans of: Jeff Buckley, Bends-era Radiohead, the Cure

Tracks to download: “Mercy,” “Willing,” “God Only Wants You,” “Murder”

Ours is that band you should have already heard of. The subject of a bidding war between the major labels prior to the release of their first LP (the beautifully crafted “Distorted Lullabies”), Ours received significant press due in part to singer/songwriter Jimmy Gnecco’s connection to the late Jeff Buckley and to the similarity of their vocals. “Distorted Lullabies” received decent radio and TV play, but not as much as their label, DreamWorks, hoped for.

Thus, after a little more than a year, Ours returned to the studio in a very different fashion. While Gnecco created “Distorted Lullabies” alone over three years, “Precious” was recorded as single takes over a mere few months. The result was a very different album that received even less radio and TV play, and led to a lot of drama with DreamWorks, causing “Mercy['s]” release to be pushed back all the way to March 2008 although it had been recorded in 2005 and 2006 and many of the songs had been written years before.

Ours’ previous works have been most easily defined as melodic goth-rock, and “Mercy” is no exception. In all of their albums, but especially in “Mercy,” the songs’ themes are dark, and are crafted to make that blatantly obvious. Gnecco’s vocal range allows him to sullenly sing lower notes one second and let out a piercing falsetto the next. Many of the drum sections pound through in a tribal-like manner, at levels surprisingly close to the vocals’, while the lead guitar parts primarily work in the realm of long, squealingly high chords and notes that also receive surprisingly high prominence in the mix.

The almost-seven minute title track is by far the best on the album; it starts strong and intensely, building all the way to the breaking point as Gnecco refrains “Mercy for the meek, I won’t let you go, I won’t leave you now!” Another highlight, “God Only Wants You,” is quite different from the sound that runs throughout most of the album. It is a slow, acoustic waltz that Gnecco sings in his most sugary sweet falsetto.

The album is strong throughout with a single exception. Although “Black” has a lot of fantastic elements to it, the spoken word toward the end of the track slows down the momentum. Gnecco’s vocals are unarguably the best part of the band, and thus a 30-second section of him just talking makes for pretty uninteresting music.

It’s been entirely too long since the release of the last Ours album. After high profile opening spots for Circa Survive and Marilyn Manson, and now the release of “Mercy,” one can hope that it won’t be another six years before we see more music from Ours.

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