REVIEW: The Movielife – “Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel”
by Chad Jewett
The chorus is big; the production is full of nifty choices (that static-y second melody line in the song’s hook or the sudden hush that interrupts the song’s final rave-up, for instance) and emphasizes all the right moments; the title and lyrics fit with what Movielife songs look like on the page. “Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel”, the Long Island emo band’s first new single in over a decade, does a credible job of speaking the same language as 2003’s much-loved Forty Hour Train Back to Penn. And that is indeed often the most salient hard part for the many post-hardcore bands that met with success in the early 2000s and have reunited in the recent past. The absolute best of these – Rainer Maria, American Football – succeeded by nailing the tricky balance between recalling old sounds and reveling in new ideas. But “Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel” does something slightly different. It actually ends up sounding like the song The Movielife might well have made in 2005 or 2006 – whenever the band’s next logical LP cycle would have been. It has the slight sonic surprises and punchy first-single-on-a-new-album hunger that, once upon a time, characterized tracks like “A Decade Under The Influence” (from Taking Back Sunday’s Where You Want To Be) or “Give It Up” (from Midtown’s Forget What You Know) – home-run swings from fellow alumni of Movelife’s graduating class. In that way, The Movielife have ended up reminding us of a whole new corner of emo’s third wave to be nostalgic for.