Embrace by Embrace (1987): Album Review

By Jaylyn Umana

Embrace was released by the post-hardcore band Embrace in 1987, fronted by Ian Mackaye of the prior lived Minor Threat and Teen Idles. Words will not be able to do this record justice, so I really encourage taking a listen to this ever inspiring compilation. Embrace is my favorite album of all time, and just as a foreword, this album is fairly obscure but with this review I hope to get you to listen to it on your own on Spotify (this band only has 1,975 followers on Spotify so it’s a guarantee that these tunes are fresh to the ears).

Embrace starts strong with “Give Me Back”, a song full of expression of all the feelings one would feel when faced with adversities. This is followed by the song “Dance of Days”, which serves as an anthem for the people who want to take the future head on with their innovation and aspirations. “Building” comes up next, and in this song you will know what self-loathing is if you haven’t before, as the lyrics convey this melancholy idea of nothing ever working out in the end. Now, my personal favorite song off the album is “Past”. This song contains such beautiful lyrical elements that leave you to question yourself as a person and top question everyone around you; peeling off the shell that you’ve been encased in that made you feel comfortable, forcing you adapt to something called reality. I will leave you to investigate further on your own, but with this one beautiful line from Ian Mackaye as he sings in the song “so in the end you didn’t have no friends cause they sat and watched you die, a lot of bridges burned, with no lessons learned, but plenty of reasons to cry”.

“Spoke” is the next track, and it seems to address the topic of trying to a life that’s worth living, which is a common goal for all of us, thus making the album relatable to virtually everyone. “Do Not Consider Yourself Free” follows, and the name really speaks for itself; no one can consider themselves as free without acknowledging that they had to set themselves loose. “No More Pain” is the next track, playing as more of a series of rallying cries for the new generation addressing political issues as well as social issues pertaining to the youth of the late 80’s just as much as it does to us right now. The following track is “I Wish I”, and it is a song that addresses that there is the problem of people being overly sheltered but that they need to be exposed to their surroundings for their own good.

“Said Gun” follows with a very powerful message from Ian Mackaye, mainly talking about the problem that he experiences with violence at performances and that violence in general should be absent from society. The succeeding track is called “Can’t Forgive”, and the name is pretty self explanatory; it talks about paranoia, grudges, and self-hatred. But what makes this song most notable is the rhythms that are supportive of the vocals, as the guitar parts are absolutely unique in their mix with the bass. “Money” is the song that is the most straightforward with it’s message: money hurts us, divides us, and thus is really worthless. “If I Never Thought About It” is a relatively interesting piece, and is really up for interpretation much like the rest of the tracks, but what I can pull from it is that it just happens to be that some people will center their lives around not caring because they have their own real thoughts and priorities much like those who reject carelessness. “End of the Year” follows with a similar feel slow and low, however there is some unexpected piano at the end which actually compliments the rest of the song.

The last song on the album is literally entitled “Last Song”, it’s the first Embrace song that I had ever heard and thus got me into it. This is a song that I would classify as a “feel-good” song, mainly because the guitar parts are absolutely innovative and the chord progressions are those that would make shivers run down your spine. I know this may not be so descriptive, but trust me when I say that Embrace can easily find its place as one of your favorite albums of all time. I am not a musical connoisseur, I just listen to the good stuff.

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