If I could describe Koalra’s self-titled album in one word, it would be a hurricane. The
Chicago-based noise punk band comes in bursting out of the gates with their screeching guitar
riffs and a solid rhythm section reminiscent of old school punk and garage bands. Fans of the
genre will feel at home, leaving them craving for a sweaty mosh pit to dive into. Then the lo-fi
vocals come in, adding a new dimension — with lyrics sharing an introspective view.
It opens with “Wind Buzz” which sounds just like that. The fastest track in the album
immediately takes your attention. With a tempo that does not hold back and the guitars buzzing
in the wind. It grips you into wanting for more.
In comes “Dark Days”, a sincere song that really hits home. With lyrics like “I suppose
I’m lost / but who is not” interlaced with chaotic drums and blaring synths, it creates a contrast of
melancholy from the lyrics and restlessness from the instrumentation. I feel like this track really
embodies the whole theme of the album. Dark days are coming and we’re hardly keeping up.
“Half Axel” is an interesting one, where half of the six minute runtime is purely instrumental, with the guitars going in and out of time. It’s like a meditative walk teetering between chaos and tranquility. Then the vocals start at the second half of the song. It’s apparently named after a Kiting maneuver, where the Kite flies back and forth. An apt theme for its sound.
We have sub 2 minute songs such as “Black Nightmare” and “Sprung” where the first
narrates running away from a nightmare and the latter having a strained relationship “with two
attitudes / we shouldn’t even try” These are the more energetic tracks in the album, which
shows the band’s old school punk roots.
“Laser Beam” is the catchiest song in the album, and just like the first track, it sounds
exactly like the title says. The guitars and synths descend like laser beams from the sky as the
lead singer sings “Oh Oh Heaven knows / but it sends me down”.
The longest song of the album by far is “I Wanna Be Around” which is a 13 minute jam.
Opposite to its predecessor “Half Axel”, this one starts as a song but moves on to a 10 minute
instrumental where the guitars run around enjoying themselves as the drums and bass keep
everything in check.
Koalra ends off with “Ex-wish”, where the instruments take a little step back to make way
for the vocals. The song is about making wishes with somebody you care about, but not being
able to see them through to the end. A great sendoff that wraps up the 30 minute runtime of the
Overall this is a great first album and I would highly recommend it to fans of noise punk
and indie rock. Where other bands from similar genres are singing about hedonistic pursuits
such as drugs and alcohol, having artists like Koalra delve deep into more personal subjects
while having the same loose and jumpy energy is a breath of fresh air.