Key tracks: “Birdbomb,” “Railroad Spike”
Charging in at 19 tracks and 30 minutes, Bronx based punk trio Poor Lily’s sophomore release blends 80’s political hardcore punk with 90’s street punk, taking the best of both genres. Opener “Birdbomb” starts immediately with Max Capshaw’s charging guitars and Dom Baiocco’s drums that set the album’s tone of never-ending urgency. The song’s lyrics reference Slaughterhouse Five, a nice touch for the educated listeners. From there, the lyrics often switch from bleakly metaphorical to bluntly political. Tracks like “Crank Radio” and “Microwave” tell stories through their lyrics, while songs like “Send in the Drones” and “Justice Kennedy Has a Cold” tackle politics head-on. In this sense, the album resembles the Dead Kennedys, who handily switched from funny to topical to disturbing on a moment’s notice. Singer Adam Wisnieski’s voice even heavily resembles Jello Biafra’s, a natural resemblance, not faked. His voice is uneven at times, but given the album’s frantic nature, it’s easy to assimilate.
Where the band resembles the Dead Kennedys vocally and lyrically, they’re more musically aligned with street punk bands. The occasional bass breakdown (also provided by Wisnieski) would not sound out of place on a Ducky Boys or an early Dropkick Murphys record. There are hints of hardcore and post-rock included, though, so the album isn’t as formulaic as most street punk bands. Varying song lengths and lyrical switches keep the album interesting. No song sticks around too long, and no idea is too drawn-out. All in all, it is an inventive punk record that does not sacrifice any intensity for ambition.
If you like this, try: There’s so many directions to go here. Future of the Left’s “the plot against common sense” (2012) is a much more metrical blending of politics and metaphors (and one of my favorite albums). The Dead Kennedys’ “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables” (1980) is a classic. Also, a forgotten band from the mid-00’s called Cheap Sex put some decent records that resemble what Poor Lily is doing.
-By Andrew McNally