Astoria, NY’s Amber Lamps have released their second EP On the Lamb, which is a follow up to 2017’s Plaidypuss. The easiest label to use is pop-punk, as there is plenty of it, however it is delivered with a groovy soulful twist that makes this album stand out.
On the Lamb opens with “Wanderlust” a song that immediately grabs your attention with a hard driving intro that is reminiscent of early punks that started with a pop influence, it would not be a far stretch to see a song like this on a Green Day album. The lyrics “it still makes me happy to come back home” fit perfectly because there are a lot of bands attempting to expand the boundaries of genres and push punk to extreme limits, but it is nice to come back home to a place where punk is fast, emotionally gritty, and infectiously catchy.
This soulful and raucous style of pop-punk is further explored with songs like “Trophy Beer” and “This Just In” but perfectly nailed in the album closer “Hindered Spirits.” A small step back in the tempo opens the song up to a sound that is more akin to Hot Water Music but without the gruff. The comparison continues with more emotionally vulnerable lyrics. “I don’t have a keeper when it’s all said and done, I’m just a hindered spirit on the run. Is this a mistake, if it is, then it’s mine to make as my life goes on and on and on” is an intrinsic look into the nature of relationships. How is the singer hindered? Does the use of “spirit” imply alcohol or the fear that we are doomed to be alone as the obstructive force? Given the way the line is sung and the way “on and on” is repeated, especially in the outro, makes me believe it is the lonely nature of an empty eternity that forces the singers mistakes.
Throughout this album there is some great instrumentation at work, the shiny example of this is “Catastrophe.” Heavy bass and drum lines give it a bluesy vibe that is further accentuated by a very solid guitar solo and makes it a slow dance diversion from the rest of the album. The other deviation from their driving punk sound is the acoustic “Sola Catuli.” The song is an emotional look at the downfall of a relationship and perhaps sets the table for the mistakes and fear of being alone mentioned in “Hindered Spirits”, making it an effusive one-two punch to end the album.
Coming in at around 18 minutes long, the only real complaint is that On the Lamb is too short. It explores a groovy but gritty side of pop-punk that will certainly have you coming back for more.