The strong female vocals that start off “Penny jar” are not immediately reconcilable with any other artist on the market. There are hints of Plumb in Merit’s style of music, but nothing that screams “influence”. This bodes well for Merit, as the style of music that they play is a blend of rock and indie, allowing for the band to enjoy success wherever they end up.
The guitar progression of a track like “Blue Bedroom” reminds individuals of late nineties emo, but also of the punk era of acts like Goo Goo Dolls (pre-Jed) and Husker Du. When Merit moves into a slower style, the band’s sound shifts into something that seems perfect for the early days of the nineties. On tracks like “Icicles”, Merit takes on Suzanne Vega and Sinead O’Connor; even if the general sound of the act changes a lot on this self-titled LP, listeners can find enough commonalities present to know that this is Merit. “Useless” is a longer track for Merit, and while the band does try to vary things up during the track, they seem to come back to the same sort of style too many times to succeed without fault. This problem could have been corrected with a shortening of the track to around four minutes, and does not seem to be too major of an issue for Merit’s victories on this disc.
The arrangements that are dominant during “Man On A String” are perhaps the most interesting on the album, as they meander through the four minutes of the track. At some point, Merit directs these arrangements into a driving beat that is only forwarded by the insistent vocals of Breanna. The track is the strongest on this album, and this is not only due to the arrangements, but rather the interesting interplay that the guitars and drums have with each other. Merit is an interesting band, due to the fact that they occupy a place in popular music that has not been filled by hundreds of acts up to this point. Individuals would like to feel some commonalities with this band, but Merit forges bravely on in this twilight location, creating their own sound by the end of the disc. Regardless of whether people like the music, Merit should be given some credit as they do come up with something that is essentially unheard of in current music – a new sound.
Top Tracks: Icicles, Man on a String
Merit – S/T / 2006 Aux Records / 10 Tracks / http://www.gomeritgo.com / http://www.auxrecords.com / Reviewed 21 May 2006