Mike Krol returns with self-deprecation layered over bouncy and delightful punk and alt-rock vibes.
Title track ‘Power Chords’ welcomes us to the album with a pleasing wail of feedback and distortion before massive chugging chords and Krol’s distinctive lyrics kick in. It tells us that this will be business as usual, it might have been a few years, but he’s fundamentally the same guy. Yes, things have happened, and he’s grown as a person and musician, strap you in as this is going to be a high-octane affair. Luckily the song lives up to this opening salvo and happily pogos along until the guitars peel out at the end.
‘Little Drama’ sounds like an updated version of Krol’s ‘I Hate Jazz’ period. The riffs are frenetic and uneasy, but there is a melodic charm that is hard to ignore. As Krol’s vocals, that are as fuzzy as the guitars, tell their story of love, loss and redemption, you are drawn back to the unrelenting catchiness of music. This is the albums true power. The ability to draw you away from a compelling and captivating story, and put your focus on some hammer and tongs garage rock/punk. ‘Blue and Pink’ and ‘Arrow in My Heart’ are the standout moments as Krol slows things down a bit, and shows he doesn’t always have to write balls-to-the-wall bangers to get your attention. His vocals are tender, with a catchy-as chorus. The music is serene, or as serene as Mike Krol gets, whilst never losing sight of his power chords mission statement. The album closes with the short and spikey ‘The End’. It is chocked full of glorious solos, HUGE distressed guitars and a general feeling of unease and malaise. But the only doesn’t end on a downer. Far from it, it has a spring in its step, a few quid in its pocket and a feeling that things are going to get better. Its outro is almost a carbon copy to Power Chords intro, meaning that, like Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, the album never really ends.
Power Chords is the best album of Krol’s career to date and a ton of fun to boot. It is an album that needs to be played on repeat at the loudest volume you tolerate, for as long as you can take it before you concede defeat to it. Lyrically, as usual, is where the album excels. As usual, Krol has rammed honest self-deprecating lyrics over bouncy and delightful punk motifs and alt-rock vibes, but on previous releases, the disquieted nihilism felt final, whereas Power Chords has hints of optimism and hope to it. Yes, there is a level of self-loather and his way of over-analysing the tiniest detail of life, but everyone needs a hobby, right? Luckily, however, Power Chords benefits from this type of songwriting, as the music is so much fun. Yes, it is angry but good angry. The kind of anger that makes go wild on a dance floor on a Saturday night, and makes you take stock of your situation and write a song about it, rather than just smashing up a bus stop and being a dick for the sake of it.
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