It's not an easy feat to strike a balance between seriousness and goofiness as successfully as Boston rock band Krill does. You title a song "Turd" or sell your second album as a USB drive stuck into a ball of mozzarella, and you're inviting some derision. Krill, however, sidesteps all of that with the vigor in their songs: severe, philosophically minded, thoroughgoing post-punk music that just so happens to be an awful lot of fun to listen to. They're songs that insist upon your attention: pretty much all of it.
The video for their 2012 single "Theme Song From Krill" (from 2012's excellent Lucky Leaves LP) features the band mugging for the camera, tossing up bunny ears behind each other like it's the first time they've found themselves in front of a camera. It'd feel like posturing except it so obviously isn't.
Indeed, many of the band's efforts are charmingly homespun: "indie" in a way that actually signifies something more than their sound, or the fact that the cover for 2012's Alam No Hris, their self-released first album, was pretty clearly made in MS Paint.
All of which makes Krill sound like more of a lark than they actually are. Like Pavement before them, the humor inherent in their efforts in no way betrays the songs themselves, which tend to become more worthwhile the more times you click play on your browser/record player/whatever.
The thoughtfulness behind everything is something you suspect is there, and then becomes clear as soon as you sit down with the band and actually talk to them, and hear them go on about David Foster Wallace or Dostoyevsky or being so poor that your bank account is in the very, very low double digits.
With Exploding in Sound Records having just dispatched their third release to the world this past February, the EP Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts into Tears, it seems easy to paint Krill as a mere "band on the rise," but this ignores the fact that their sound is already as polished and addictive as it is: moody and transcendent, angry without ever being maudlin.
Vocalist/bassist Jonah Furman's range -- somewhere in the neighborhood of Woods' Jeremy Earl or a slightly more approachable Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- works especially well with Krill's sound. There's an awful lot of guitar, and an awful lot of chugging, frenetic drums courtesy of Luke Pyenson, but it's Furman voice that seems to come to the forefront again and again.
Somehow it's a surprise and a delight every time he goes on a shouting jag or repeats a set of lines with snowballing urgency, but the energy here never feels misplaced or affected. (Check out "Infinite Power" for a clear sense of what this sounds like, and then best of luck getting yourself to stop listening to it on repeat for the rest of the afternoon.)
Krill is scheduled to perform on Friday, March 7, at Hard Rock Cafe during Viva PHX. Tickets are $20.
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