The last couple of years have seen a small resurgence in alternative, garage rock bands making their name in a gradually growing scene. Last year, Boston rockers Speedy Ortiz emerged as one of the frontrunners on the more alternative side, with the likes of The Orwells and Together PANGEA taking it a step further with faster and heavier garage punk. This year, it looks like it’ll be Krill’s turn to shine, with the American group (not to be confused with the sea creature) releasing their debut album A Distant Fist Unclenching.
Album opener Phantom sees vocalist Ron sing of a phantom coming to you in the night over brooding guitars, before drums and bass enter the frame and the song gains some stability. “All you see is your reflection” sings the frontman before a selection of absurd lyrics leave his vocal chords. “You get a glass of milk but you forget it in the microwave” he sings as his vocals increase in emotional intensity alongside pounding drums and stabbing guitars. Foot, the second of seven one-word track titles on the album, fades in and changes time signatures frequently as the song goes through multiple chaotic periods by means of distorted guitars and Ron’s already recognizable voice. Speedy Ortiz’s subtle footprints are all over the snow which is Krill’s music, in more ways than one. The 90-second Fly leans more towards hardcore garage punk on a very lo-fi scale as the bass becomes more distorted and the song itself becomes more urgent. Torturer proceeds to slowly enter with a pulsating bassline, as Ron sings of a black masked torturer opening your front door. His lyrics tend to focus around personal situations, which have an added sense of absurdity. Its chorus is rather catchy, before the outro builds on this with a spidery solo full of power. It’s just one of the many reasons why Krill are worth getting excited about.
Tiger, the rough halfway point of A Distant Fist Unclenching, sees Ron sing “I had a bad day, but at least it’s ending” over altering time signatures and big, anthemic moments. At just over seven minutes long it’s the longest song on the album, yet it draws you in so much that you hardly even notice it. “In the distance, a villager has expired” sings Ron, before adding “he was mauled by a hungry tiger”. It might not be the most appealing subject matter, but it definitely suits the bizarre nature of Krill’s music. “The villager was well-liked by friends and family and tiger-like” finishes Ron, before the song builds itself up and tears itself down in the same fashion for the remainder of the track. Mom’s pulsating drum build-up prepares us for something other than what we were expecting, turning the fast-paced rocker we were expecting into a mid-paced slacker. Ron sings, “Her lifelong self-hatred at the age of 61” ahead of a more indie-rock mid-section which adds some pace and energy to the track. The chorus is faster and anthemic, something which was rather necessary in and amongst the slow, slacker-garage. Squirrels is another mix of changing time signatures and weird lyrics, with Ron singing about being a squirrel and “wanting to sit in a tree with you”. Album highlight Brain Problem is the penultimate song on the record, with its picked intro and percussive beats making way for five and a half minutes of epic grunge and distortion. “When I was 16, I had a brain problem” sings Ron as the song speeds up and remains at an upbeat pace for the most part. Album closer It Ends opens with some acoustic guitar, before the song morphs into a mid-paced rocker which reaches epic proportions as it slowly brings the album to an end.
Krill may not be the most well-known upcoming group around right now, but they’re certainly one worth getting excited about.