The title track from Mike Krol’s latest record, Power Chords, might just have the catchiest chorus in a rock song this year.
Following up a spoken-word intro, Krol's lyrics are universal, outlining the vengeful thoughts that can cut the pain of heartbreak. “Hold me close / Don’t ever let me go / 'cause I’ve been waiting all my life for the moment to tell you so / With a couple power chords / I’m gonna let you know / That revenge is better / When it comes from down below.”
Fuzzy, zesty guitar lines unite with a zippy drumbeat to create the supports for Krol’s signature edgy vocal delivery, making for one commanding track.
In fact, all 11 songs on his fourth offering, the second on Merge Records, are hard to shake. That’s generally the case with tunes by this Milwaukee-born garage rocker. He’s got hooks for days, and he knows how to use them. This go-around, though, he’s showing his evolution through song structure.
“I used to just write songs that were kind of first chorus, verse, chorus, done,” Krol says. “With this new one, I wanted to add bridges and extended choruses, things to make the songs a bit more polished.
“In addition to that,” he adds, “I tried to work on the recordings themselves. I worked with a producer I really like, Mike McCarthy. He’s in Nashville and has done several records with Spoon, among others. I wanted this record to have a little less of a home-recording sound – not over-the-top polished and pretty, but just to take it a step up from where I was previously."
That luster that gives new twists and glitz also serves to magnify the glorious audaciousness of Krol’s vocals. He’s lost some of the snotty sound that was pervasive in early releases like I Hate Jazz (2011) and Trust Fund (2013) without losing the acidic nerve that makes his mix of garage rock, punk, and pop so intense and sticky.
Krol says that some of the critiques he’s received in the past have helped shaped this record. “I put my first two records out entirely by myself, and I never expected anyone to hear them outside of my friends and family, so once I started getting feedback, that was all very new, a shock to me.”
He took stock of that input. “The feedback that led to some of the changes I’ve made was things I agreed with myself. It took me a little bit to figure out how to hone my skills before rushing out another record.”
There’s also a lack of interest in speeding up his process for any particular gains. “I have always been in favor of having more of a slow burn and getting fans and listeners slowly over time. I’m a little old school that way — just trying to take things slowly and not break the Internet right off the bat.”
Though Krol has performed in Tucson, this upcoming Phoenix show will be his first time rocking out in the Valley. For both touring and recording, the artist maintains a fluid roster of bandmates.
“I like keeping it a bit open. I see it as a collective of musicians that I can call on at different times for different projects. The current lineup is great, and I feel that we’re really strong and gel well together.”