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I love good definitions when it comes to bands. You know, something like “BLACK FLAG and MANOWAR went into a bar and bla bla bla”. Nah, honestly, I can’t stand this one. But I do like the one on PEMBROKE’s Bandcamp page: “Think SICK OF IT ALL covering RITES OF SPRING or vice versa”. I can relate to that and think it’s pretty accurate for a oneliner. Even when you don’t like those two bands, check out PEMBROKE’s debut album, cause there’s much more to it.

The four-piece formed in 2018 and is some kind of NYHC-veteran-collective, with bassist Jamie Behar (SAETIA, OFF MINOR) being the most prominent name. I also know the early 90s-Post-Hardcore-group SUPERTOUCH, ex-band of the guitarist Jon Biviano. With PEMBROKE’s debut album “All the Brightest Pictures” you promptly hear that these guys are no green horns. Not many young bands blend such different styles as easy and comfortable as these guys do while sounding confident and authentic throughout.

Despite none of them being around in the heydays of 80s Hardcore, the record breathes a lot of Oldschool-air. But, as I said at the beginning, PEMBROKE constantly turn and rotate during this 35 minutes and every other song offers something new. The backbone of it all is fast and melodic Hardcore. I’ll probably throw in CIV as a reference, cause they’re from New York too. It takes PEMBROKE just a few minutes to come up with the first surprise, that nice little Reggae break in “Take a Nap”. Their charismatic singer Ron Treasure is the guy who can handle this kind of style, perhaps he was even the one who pushed for this?

Pretty often the four-piece pairs their Hardcore-leanings with introspective, moody Post-Hardcore-stuff in the vein of FUGAZI. Just listen to “Final Day”, “Not OK” and yeah, “Too Old”, where they go back and forth from ultra-soft to lightning fast. Contrary to these, tracks like “Bloodrats”, “Lisa Novak” and “Let it Die” clock in under two minutes and get straight to the point with hyper-fast and thrashy beats. A cut like “Happy Hour” moves towards Skatepunk/Melodycore and bands like OPERATION IVY or CLASSICS OF LOVE. The guitar work in “Too young to die” is straight out the AGENT ORANGE-book and pretty fucking cool. Another nice surprise is the instrumental “Wreckage”, the most complex and playful song on the record. The closer “Must be nice” is the longest cut and goes all in, offering something like a summary of the whole album…

“All the Brightest Pictures” might seem like a small and standard album… and indeed, it’s no overblown piece of Hardcore that pretends to be arty or innovative. You can feel that these four experienced musicians came together with the vague plan of playin’ Punkrock and having fun in doing so. Their debut album in the end is just that: A lot of fun. It’s no “happy-go-lucky”-kind of fun, it’s fun for guys into melodic, grown-up HC/Punk with a sense for some neat little ideas. A small detail that I really like about this album is the fact, that PEMBROKE don’t overdo this kind of stuff. Something like that Reggae-part in “Take a Nap”, the screaming in “Not ok” or the nested character of “Wreckage” only happen once on the album. That keeps it special. At heart it’s still Oldschool-Hardcore with fast rhythms, melodic and thrashy guitars, passionate singing and a loooot of catchy crew shouts. It’s a timeless formula if done right, and here it’s done more than right.

“All the Brightest Pictures” will probably (sadly?) stay an insider, so give it a chance and don’t miss one of the best HC-records of the year…


All The Brightest Pictures 12″ LP

With an impressive pedigree of NYC veteran musicians, PEMBROKE’s energetic debut is brimming with melodic punk riffs, galloping hardcore, mosh-inducing breakdowns, a tightly wound rhythm section, and a pinch of DC post-hardcore flavor. Think SICK OF IT ALL covering RITES OF SPRING or vice versa.