I really didn't want to review this album because I've reviewed a lot of records this year that I have given pretty high scores to. And that's a good sign; I generally try to be an objective reviewer, and I'll be the first to say that 2006 has been one of my personal favorite years of music in a very long time. And every record I've loved has been for specific reasons pertaining to the band, whether it has been a strong comeback (Thursday, BoySetsFire), an enjoyable drinking album (the Falcon, Saves the Day), or just front-to-back good listens (Life at These Speeds, the Blood Brothers).
However, this is the first record I've heard this year that spans near perfect, beginning to end, through just about every category imaginable. This is record-of-the-year potential. Personally, I wasn't sure how Planes Mistaken for Stars would best the triumph that was Up in Them Guts. However, Mercy is an unrelenting punch. It's a truck that keeps running you over, a gun that keeps shooting you -- it's the record that tears your guts out and makes you ask for more. It's depraved, violent, nasty, heavy, and if music had a color it would be pitch black with the slightest hint of deep grey lurking around the edges.
One thing Planes' albums have always been is oddly produced, vocals obscured by an array of repetitive guitars and an onslaught of drums. This album, for once, has brought the band's sound to a plateau. The tension is equal to the Fuck with Fire days, while maintaining the heavy sound Up in Them Guts held so well.
Every second on this record sounds like the end of the world, as if it was one last catharsis before the earth broke in two and all life was lost. From the culmination of the introductory "One Fucked Pony" to the end of the depraved and despair-filled acoustic "Penitence," this album makes you hate just about everything about existence. Planes Mistaken for Stars has never been a happy band, a band that makes you feel good about much at all, and that depression hits just as hard on Mercy. The politically accosting, "Church Date" reads:
Son of a bitch, it seems that we've been tricked. / Our heroes were whores and our martyrs just masochists. / Lest you forget / we asked for this.The album is filled with self-depreication, loss, destruction, and anger. What's more though, is that it is just balls to the fucking wall of rock and roll. It's Planes doing what they do best, and making you feel the worst of it while they're at it. This is serious album-of-the-year potential, now neck-deep in a year filled with really great music. If you've ever enjoyed this band, there's no reason to think this would disappoint in any way.