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Mercury Messiah’s “Sunlight Surfing”

Surging into the melodic ethers with a candid softness I don’t hear nearly as much of in the rock genre as I should in 2021, the vocal in Mercury Messiah’s “Sunlight Surfing” is actually as cerebral an element in the mix as the guitar parts are. There’s no overstating the role of the harmonies in this single; truthfully, they’re as major a communicator as any of the lyrics are on their own, bringing to mind the likes of Led Zeppelin and Wolfmother without stepping away from a modern vibe as synonymous with alt-rock as it is the surreal pop movement. Aesthetically speaking, Mercury Messiah are breaking off a rock sound here that has the potential to really light up the underground unlike any other releases hitting shelves this summer. 


The chorus in this track is exposed, but it doesn’t feel so raw and brittle that its emotionality winds up sounding too clandestine to stand up to the brawn of the instrumentation. Utilizing the title as the sole verse in the climax of “Sunlight Surfing” might be considered a throwback move by a lot of critics, but from my perspective, it’s the best way to maintain efficiency whilst also supporting a harmony that requires a lot of panache from the vocal. Simply put, the fever pitch in this song is all tone, aligning the concept behind the material with the old school in rock as much as it would the puritans starting their own revolution out of the underground right now. 


These guitar strings, both electrified and acoustic the same, create a template for the rhythm more than the percussion does, but this doesn’t minimize the presence of the drums at all – the opposite, actually. The drums are responsible for propelling the band forward when the distortion lulls us into a vulnerable state before the lyrics, and without a lot of volume they still shape a lot of the emotional subtext in the words here. You’ve got to hand it to a band like Mercury Messiah for their attention to detail, and with the right kind of attention from the college radio market, I think their straightforward rock n’ roll mentality could catch fire with a lot of indie types a lot sooner than the competition’s will. 

“Sunlight Surfing” is straight-up and unapologetically simplistic where it matters, but it’s also just the shot of rock vitality I needed to cap this summer off the right way. Though Mercury Messiah have some rough edges masked by their melodic command over the lyrics and guitar parts in this song the same, they’re appropriating them with this material so brilliantly that I don’t see even the grittier components of their profile standing between their present place in the underground hierarchy and stardom. They’ve got all the right ingredients to cook up an amazing debut album just based on what I’ve already heard in “Sunlight Surfing,” and when it finally drops I hope to have a shot at covering it and the magic its tracklist will likely contain. 

Mindy McCall



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