In a day and age where hardcore bands either play bad metal or over-emulate their early ’80s heroes only to end up as mediocre imitations, Bronx’s Poor Lily are an SST-ish breath of rancid smog who bring some reality and meaning back into the hardcore aesthetic. It makes sense, too: multi-instrumentalist and sometime vocalist Max Capshaw has been in Sick of It All, Murphy’s Law and H2O to name a few; bassist/guitarist/vocalist Adam Wisnieski comes from the super lo-fi, noisy Lightning Crabs; and, drummer Dom Biacco drummed for Beyond. In their current incarnation, the trio have stepped beyond their backgrounds to create a type of hardcore that’s not heard that often.
Poor Lily approach their songs with the herky jerky attack of MMA fighter “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine, i.e., wild syncopation, unpredictable time changes and deadly focus. If The Minutemen were the common ancestor, The Molecules would be on one branch and Poor Lily would be on the other. It’s a lot of schizophrenic insanity that doesn’t have time for singalong choruses, memorable hooks or consistent beats that you can bob your head to. It’s raging aggression Black Flag-style, like My War played at 45 rpm because you’re drunk and speeding and the guitars sound really cool that way.
There are times when Adam’s vocals recall the treble-y vibrato of Jello Biafra, though this seems to be due more to similar vocal chords than a conscious effort to imitate. If there is any band worship to be had, it’s for the aforementioned Minutemen and, even then, it’s an extension of, not an imitation of.
Some people like their punk rock to look a certain way and sound a certain way. That’s fine, don’t waste your time here. Poor Lily are doing their own thing and they don’t need your narrow-minded approval. However, if you see punk as a springboard rather than a bear-trap, you may enjoy the strychnine edge of these wildly diverse songs.