Amber Pacific is a punk rock/emo band known for impressively manic drumming, songs that take themselves seriously but are ultimately fun and of course, Matt Young’s composed and often baritone vocals. With the release of their hit debut album, The Possibility And The Promise, Amber Pacific quickly established themselves as a premier act in a genre meant for the younger generation but capable of being appreciated by anyone. With addicting guitar hooks, Young’s single-faceted but appealing voice, keen lyrics and the avid, superlative drumming of Dango, Amber Pacific produced a highly enjoyable punk album with substance. It’s not the most exciting music in the world and truth be told, Amber’s Pacific approach is pretty simple and straightforward. There’s little variety and Young’s singing never really elevates to a higher level, but The Promise And The Possibility makes up for these small gripes as a truly addictive experience filled with catchy choruses and memorable moments that any fan of the genre can appreciate.
“Gone So Young” is the album’s first true single and best overall song, opening with a pleasantly buzzing guitar hook from Will Nutter. Dango’s drumming is characteristically impressive and creative, but this song also highlights another praise-worthy Amber Pacific trait: adding flair to the music with Justin Westcott’s crystal-clear rhythm guitar and Greg Strong’s soulful bass in the background. Other than the drumming department, Amber Pacific also has an apparent talent for creating meaningful and addicting songs without actually doing anything remarkable on their instruments: Young’s vocals escalate, but never to the point of being uncomfortable, the guitar riffs aren’t exceedingly complicated and the all-around pace of the song is anything but energetic. However, Amber Pacific still manages to entertain with poignant lyrics and simple, likable songs such as this.
“For What It’s Worth” mixes things up a bit with a slightly heavier track, although Young and company deliver yet another catchy chorus to keep things from getting too serious. The guitar riffs are on point, Dango’s lively drums are perfectly rhythmic and Young’s vocals actually ascends into more heartfelt and urgent territory on the song’s long notes. This song also deserves recognition for its captivating and reflective bridge filled with strings to give this standout track more feeling.
Some of the most memorable guitar hooks and optimistic lyrics of The Possibility And The Promise are contained in ”Always You (Good Times),” a upbeat and immediately likable song keeping with the theme of the album: remembering good times of love and friendship in the past in the face of the uncertain future. Young delivers one of the most heartfelt and striking choruses in Amber Pacific’s song catalogue as he declares “Good times last forever / I’ll keep my heart with yours / For every minute I am gone / Swear you’ll never leave me / I’ll be there every time / In your heart and in your eyes.”
It’s a simple and straightforward formula, but Amber Pacific pulls it off better than most without ever branching out of their comfort zone. Young’s vocals never rise and deliver any transcendent moments, but are pleasant enough on the ears to be perfectly adequate for a homogenous album such as this. Other than the heartfelt and touching piano ballad “If I Fall,” there’s not much variety to be had here, but The Possibility And The Promise succeeds at what it aims for and ends up being an extremely enjoyable (albeit one-dimensional) punk/emo experience. Dango’s drumming gives each charming track extra flair while agreeable guitar hooks help them fade in and out of each other. The lack of diversity may be off-putting to some, but when all is said and done, Amber Pacific’s addictive style makes them a necessary staple in any punk fan’s music library. Fans of Just Surrender, A Change Of Pace, Hit The Lights, Yellowcard, Matchbook Romance, The Ataris, The Starting Line, Blink-182, Valencia, Dropout Year and Holiday Parade will be right at home with this lovable Amber Pacific album. The Possibility And The Promise was followed by another consistently great album before Young’s departure led to an incredibly disappointing third record. However, Young’s return to Amber Pacific ensures that this talented band is back on track and destined for punk rock relevance once again. Because even though Amber Pacific never really changes up their non-convoluted formula, they execute that style of music to perfection throughout the debut’s duration: intelligent song-writing, perfectly composed musicianship and catchy and memorable choruses.
Final Score: 8.4/10
Rank: 1st (three total albums)
- Everything We Were Has Become What We Are
- Poetically Pathetic
- Gone So Young
- Save Me From Me
- For What It’s Worth
- The Right To Write Me Off
- The Sky Could Fall Tonight
- Falling Away
- Always You (Good Times)
- If I Fall
- Can’t Hold Back