Album Review – Love Songs To Remind Us That We Can’t Stand Each Other by Koalra (2021) (Gigantic Noise Records)
If the quite sublime, Into The Everything album (released in April 2021), represented this Portland via Chicago foursome’s sweeter moments, then it has been followed up a mere six months later, with an album that appears to almost hell bent on redressing such fluffy sensibilities with layers of grumbling, fuzz-laden testosterone.
Of course, amid the fuzzy mayhem, it still ‘kinda of jangles’ and thankfully it is still has instances of the more melodic moments that have hitherto been their signature sound.
This is best seen in opener and stand out, Betty Mae Ricardson, which wafts a distant The Lightning Seeds-esque stadium indie, dominant jangled melody, through all manner of Dinosaur Jr fuzzy fraction. Similarly Sight Unseen hints at their more sumptuous pretty of yesteryear (or yester-month as the case may be, such is the prolific nature of this act !).
Thereafter, it gets dank, dark and the atmosphere, if not necessarily the sound, starts to cloy with Joy Division style claustrophobia, as early 80s coldwave tracks are juxtaposed with the muscular jangle of modern day post-punk.
Initially the coldwave is represented by the title track, Clarity and When We Fall, which are all droning, off kilter vocals, murmured through heavy reverb, distortion, gaze and stunted, faux jangled riffs, that stave off accusations of downright weird and compel rather than dispel. These tracks are the more obtuse climaxes to tracks such as Deflection and Good Comes Back that were first experimented with on the 2020 album, The Wakes.
Ultimately, the most appealing of the release, most definitely centres around the jangly post-punk aesthetic that is so dynamic in the modern era. Here the chunky basslines of Chasing Shadows and No Gods Only Monsters are layered with typically respledent fuzz and pierced by swirling DIIV / RGV style riffs that hint at melody but ultimately reject the overall premise.
All energy, all fraction and weirdly mesmerizing, Koalra’s headlong leap into the darkness on this album works with stunning effect and will appeal to those who do not necessarily need The Byrds pretty in their jangle.
Nice! I definitely hear Joy Division. And maybe a bit of Bauhaus?