Krill is a music writer’s dream.

They have their own theme song (“Krill, krill, krill forever / Krill, krill, forever and ever”); they released a meta concept album about a character from a song by Pile (his name is Steve); and they have a song called “Turd,” which includes the line “I had a vision of myself / A turd spinning in flushing water / Not going down.” Et cetera.

This all makes for good material, evident by the tons of coverage Krill has received. The Boston locals even made it to Rolling Stone, which called them “bizarre” and “weirdos” in the same headline.

But beyond the oddball shtick is some really good music. A Distant Fist Unclenching has plenty of bizarre philosophical ruminations and goofy moments. It also has plenty of off-kilter rhythms and surprisingly catchy melodies.

The album opener, “Phantom” is best described as…Krilly. Driving bass, simultaneously boring and profound lyrics, loud-soft dynamics, and nasally vocals. This is uniquely Krill.

There aren’t many bands that can make a refrain out of “What is the proper orientation of my self to my non-self / What is the proper orientation of my non-self to me / What is the proper orientation of the world to my non-self / What is the proper orientation of the world to me.”

On “Foot,” things get slightly weirder (“I came and visited you at work / I couldn’t help but imagine you without your shirt / All I wanted was to hold your foot”). “Foot” uses volume as primary element, oscillating between loud and louder, rather than loud and soft.

With “Brain Problem” Krill experiments more with rhythm and syncopation, showing that even though they may compose songs on a three-stringed guitar (Jesus and Mary Chain, anybody?) they still know what they are doing. On “Brain Problem,” what begins as a saccharine melody in an indecipherable time signature becomes a post-punk rumination on, well…brain problems (“God bring me strength /  To know what is a brain problem / And what is just me”). Although a standout track, it drags on. You can only hear about brain problems for so long before it becomes gratuitous.

A Distant Fist Unclenching is only nine songs, but nearly 45 minutes long. Every song on the second half clocks in at over five minutes, but unfortunately “Tiger” is the only song that really pulls it off. “Tiger” is essentially a parable, a song about people disguised as one about an animal, from which the album gets its name (“I had a bad day but at least it’s ending / And in the distance there is a fist unclenching”). At over 7 minutes, “Tiger” is ironically the only song to justify its length, the last minute of which is pure, sublime noise rivaling the likes of My Bloody Valentine.

On the other side of the spectrum, “Fly” is reminiscent of Wire for its brevity and unorthodox structure. At 1:29, “Fly” seems out of place not just for its length, but also lo(wer)-fi production qualities. Ultimately, we could probably do without it.

But these flaws are few and not nearly enough to obscure all that is good about A Distant Fist Unclenching. The changing rhythms, smart lyrics, punk aesthetic; there really isn’t anything quite like it.

At times Krill sounds as if they may be drawing on late 90s/early 2000s Dischord Records, like on the first single from the album, “Torturer.” Like most Krill songs, “Torturer” is clever, an entire song about a single moment in time. The perfectly syncopated vocals and heavily effected guitar in the bridge make for a nice introduction to Krill. Later, on the more subdued “It Ends” Krill even sounds like early Death Cab for Cutie (I’m talkin’ You Can Play These Songs with Chords early).

But it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, they just sound Krilly.

Album Review: Krill - A Distant Fist Unclenching
Pros
  • It's Krill
  • Smart lyrics
  • Guitar-driven rock lives!
Cons
  • Some tracks drag on.
8.8Overall Score

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