Indie outfit Koalra has just released their latest album entitled “Love Songs to Remind us That We Can’t Stand Each Other.” This comes fresh after the band’s relocation to Portland (from their native Chicago) and a reshuffling of their lineup. Yet despite these huge changes, the band hopes to take things up a notch with this latest offering.
From their debut as a noise-fueled punk band in 2019, Koalra’s subsequent releases have always managed to round out their sound in new and interesting ways. Their 2020 EP “Surprise lights” featured more subdued and introspective themes, followed by “The Wakes” later that year which dove more into synths and experimental techniques. Early 2021’s “Into the Everything” had them delving into darker goth-tinged compositions. All this experience culminates into this new album.
As their fifth LP in three years and a drive for constant evolution, “Love Songs” is an album that marks a new direction for the band. Sparked by the continued social and political unrest around them, these songs are laced with the disenchantment towards the systems that are supposed to protect us. With the band’s savvy adherence to noise and an upgraded instrumental palette involving synths and strings, Koalra stands to find hope amidst a sea of worldwide turmoil and uncertainty.
This contrast rings forth with the sparking line in “Clarity”: “Don’t fight with me, when we’re pulling out our teeth.” Sung over glistening synths and rumbling drums, this song seeks to find balance and harmony in a growing sea of division slowly encroaching our world. Elsewhere, in a stark blend of goth and grunge riffs is “Flatline” where Koalra watches with bated breath as our societal systems crumble: “Everything used to be magic is now an illusion”.
“Unrest and disenchantment are a lot more apparent and upfront in this album than ever before.” Says frontman Philip Sidener on the making of this album. Being supporters of the LGBT movement, Black lives matter and police reform, the band shares their grievances on the foreboding centerpiece “No Gods Only Monsters”. A song about watching the leadership around them and wondering whether their motivations are in the right place. This anthemic call to be vigilant and stand up for what is right appears once again in “One Way Out”, where restless drums and anxious harmonies urge us to not lose hope and keep up the good fight.
The album ends with the gentle rhythms of “Sight Unseen”, where uplifting melodies breeze over melancholic lyrics. A sobering note that provides refuge amid a sea of confusion. “Love Songs to Remind Us That We Can’t Stand Each Other” doesn’t only look at interpersonal relationships, but a more societal one. Koalra not only seeks change within themselves as artists, but also with the world at large.