"Sound like what's on the radio, and you'll get there" is a risky proposal, even if you're poised to quickly cash in on a popular style. Most groups take years to build a following, during which time the sound they're emulating may cool off, at least as far as the industry is concerned. (People, on the other hand, listen to damn near anything.)
That's a risk local band Mercury continues to take, crafting professional modern-rock radio songs firmly within the template of multiplatinum post-grunge groups such as Live and Creed. After a year off, Mercury is back with a slick EP of new material.
The group hits its target with the driving title track "Automatic Savior," which combines a nasty riff with some of the band's more memorable guitar work and imagery. The chorus bears a distinct resemblance to Linkin Park and Evanescence's "Save Me" -- thankfully, minus the turntables and hilarious rapping. It's a well-crafted song.
The rest of the disc doesn't fare as well. "Heal" rhymes heal with fail, resulting in hail or hale. Over and over. Plenty of other words would do fine. Except for the higher register of Morris' vocals, "The Beautiful" could pass as a Creed B-side, complete with arms-wide-open passion and chug-a-lug guitars. The included acoustic version further emphasizes the corny lyrics, which on this outing prove to be the group's blind spot.
Depending on your perspective, sounding like Creed's not a bad thing. A lot of people -- inexplicably -- like that band. A lot more than like, uh, your band or mine. I hope Mercury sells a gazillion copies.