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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Album of the Week: Krill - "A Distant Fist Unclenching"

Rating: 8.7/10

2015 has already been front-loaded with early album of the year contenders: Father John Misty, Viet Cong, and Sleater-Kinney have all put out outstanding records in the year's first few weeks. Yet another album has been thrust into the conversation this week with the release of Krill's A Distant Fist Unclenching, the Boston-based group's third full-length output and by far the most well-worked of the bunch. The band has been compared in the past to the likes of Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, and Pavement, but in truth Krill are too unique to be pinned down to a like-for-like comparison. The trio's penchants for big guitars, quiet-loud dynamics, and candid lyrics aren't anything revolutionary, but there may not be anybody else in the underground scene making better music right now than Krill.

A Distant Fist Unclenching marks a clear turning point in Krill's discography, as the bite-sized songs of albums past have been replaced by sprawling, restless anthems - all but two of the record's nine tracks approach or surpass five minutes in length. The seven-minute "Tiger" serves as the album's centerpiece, building off of a chirpy guitar riff into the explosion of sound that closes out the track, demonstrating the band's ability to stretch out a song without droning on.

Singer/bassist Jonah Furman's lyrics have matured greatly as well with A Distant Fist Unclenching. The album as a whole serves as a strikingly identifiable depiction of anxiety and other mental health issues, making hard to believe this is the same band that wrote the cheekily hilarious "Turd" just a year ago. Furman's improvements are most noticeable on "Brain Problem," which arrives with what are bound to be some of the year's greatest lyrics. "God grant me the strength/To know what is a brain problem/And what is just me," Furman begs over an . He details his struggles in the song's verses, howling, "The problem comes and goes with the weather/And I know/Just 'cause it's not getting better now/Doesn't mean it won't ever." Furman's ability to explain something as complex as what appears to be depression in such a potent and comprehensible way is unbelievable, and shows his songwriting ability is not one to be underestimated.

Krill seem poised to use A Distant Fist Unclenching as a launching pad into a long, successful career of making remarkable guitar-rock records. The group stated in a recent Vice interview that touring is both "boring" and "terrible," but that doesn't stop them from making big plans for 2015 already: they've booked European tour dates as well as shows across the American east coast and midwest, all culminating in a slot at May's Boston Calling festival. For Krill, the music is worth the stresses of touring and finances, but if they continue writing songs like those found on this record, I suspect those will both become much smaller issues in the future.

Key tracks: "Phantom," "Torturer," "Tiger," "Brain Problem"

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