Merci, Mercy Embraces Dysfunction Habits on Debut EP ‘No Thank You, No Thanks’

Photo Credit: She Is Aphrodite

“I hate myself so much that I cannot be loved,” Australia-based pop singer-songwriter and ukuleleist Mercedes Thorne — known by her stage name merci, mercy — sings on “Wonder What It Feels Like,” the fifth track off her debut EP, No Thank You, No Thanks. The rest of the collection is similarly raw and honest, delving into broken friendships, escapist drinking, and other experiences most people can relate to but may not openly speak about.

The 19-year-old considers the EP a snapshot of her life over the past year, both the ups and the downs, covering the challenges she’s faced in her relationship with herself and with others. Her voice contains hints of Sia, while her sassy, sarcastic lyrical style is more like Lily Allen.

The collection’s biggest standout is its catchy choruses, which contrast with the trying experiences depicted in the lyrics. In the endearing “Something You Like,” for instance, she sings against surprisingly soothing keyboard and ukulele about a tortured relationship: “I wake up, we break up/without any makeup/I push you out the door/and I’m crying on the floor/I want you, you with me/but it’s not that easy/I can’t change the way that you see me.”

“‘Something You Like’ is my favorite because it feels empowering while being very vulnerable,” says Thorne. “Sometimes, you are the only one who can help yourself, and the loved ones in your life need to realize that instead of on-looking and judging you without knowing. They’re your decisions; you’ll learn from them, good or bad.”

Thorne has a knack for rendering weighty issues in bold technicolor strokes—she does so quite literally in the video for “Fall Apart,” which reflects on a relationship that appears doomed from the beginning. As she doodles in her room, funny, comic book-style speech bubbles bring her ruminations to life. Bianca Bosso & The Interns, the illustrators behind the video, have also created lyric videos for merci, mercy featuring the same silly but poignant cartoons.

In addition to her interpersonal relationships, Thorne’s relationship with alcohol is a prominent theme on the album, also encompassing both the good and the bad. “Tequila and Lemonade,” for instance, is about going out and partying to avoid other people’s drama. “I’ll be dancing and celebrating/with tequila and lemonade/got no time to be throwing shade,” she belts. In “Fucked Myself Up,” which she wrote on her ukulele in her bedroom, she sings about getting intoxicated to mask loneliness with cutting lyrics like “too much is never enough.” 

These songs were inspired by the artist’s struggles with social anxiety. “[Alcohol] gave me the confidence to talk to people,” she says. “I was getting messed up on purpose in order to allow myself to be around people I didn’t know.”

The final track, appropriately titled “The Very Very End,” embodies the combination of cute and depressing that characterizes merci, mercy’s music, with a happy-go-lucky melody and sardonic lines like “you got me thinking that I probably should not exist/so I’ll take my snacks and just go home to self-loathe on my own.” The track contains the title of the EP, playing on the expression “thanks but no thanks” to sassily denounce a friend who acts more like an enemy.

She collaborated with multiple producers on the EP, including Dave Hammer, Chris Collins, and Kon Kersting. She also worked with a number of songwriters; Edwin White (Vance Joy) and Joel Quartermain (G Flip, Meg Mac) co-wrote “Fall Apart,” “Fucked Myself Up,” and “Tequila and Lemonade” with her.

“Working with various producers in studios around the country was a life-changing experience,” she reflects. “It gave me the confidence I was missing.”

Thorne wrote her first song after experiencing heartbreak at age 16, then continued to work on music after school instead of doing her homework. Eventually, she uploaded a song to Triple J Unearthed, an Australian site for discovering new music, which landed her an international label deal and management. Now that she’s releasing her debut, she’s rehearsing for her first post-quarantine live shows – the first of which took place earlier this week, at the sold-out Oxford Art Factory in Sydney, Australia. She’ll livestream the next one on October 23.

All in all, her music serves to reassure and comfort anyone who feels ashamed or alone in the dysfunction of their life, and that was Thorne’s intention with it. “I hope the songs from my EP will help make fans of my music feel less alone,” she says. “Also, [I hope they see] that it’s okay to be open about your mental health. I wanted to be really honest with my lyrics.”

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