Every good superhero needs two things: an origin story and a theme song. On the opening track from their debut album Lucky Leaves, Krill provides both in under three minutes. “Theme from Krill” tells the story of the bug that enters lead singer Jonah Furman (brother of Ezra) and convinces him to form a band. The two form an uneasy alliance and attempt a detente through the rallying cry of “Krill, Krill, Krill forever / Krill forever and ever”. Krill and Furman becoming one, and thus an indie superhero was born. So when Krill announced their break-up in the fall of 2015 the responses were predictable. “What happened to ‘Krill Forever’?” someone commented on the Facebook post announcing the break-up. “But krill is supposed to be forever” went another.
Now Krill is back, well sort of. The band released a 5 song EP titled Krill composed of music they were working on before they had to return to their home planet. On the EP the band sounds as tight and locked-in as ever, no hint of any impending dissolution – at least sonically. The patented paranoid-grunge sound is still perfectly intact. While Ezra’s voice wobbles, Jonah’s wallows. He sounds far away and like he’s never fully unleashing his full vocal potential; when he sings it’s the sound of distant teeth unclenching.
Taking a closer listen to Furman’s lyrics reveals a hint that the band wasn’t long for this world. Opening track “Meat” has him confronting the eternal and finding a God “meatless and senseless”. He asks the ethereal, uncaring, all-powerful about the end of his days “Will you see me at the end, naked and shameless?” But it’s easy to squint and find this as a stand-in for Furman’s anxiety about the band. What makes (made?) Krill so great was the buttoned-up care and fear that permeated every track. Every line felt like it was complemented by sideways glances at the encroaching darkness. To lose that anxiety and uncertainty would strip Krill of their greatness.
EP midpoint “The Void” is Furman’s uneasiness about the future of the band writ large. The concept of the Void has long been used to portray uncertainty and question the futility of existence. In the Void you are neither here nor there. Nothing is definitive, only swirling nothingness with no conclusion. On “The Void” Furman doesn’t just find himself in a staring match with the Void, he enters it to a soundtrack of wailing guitars and crashing drums. What particular enveloping darkness is he dipping a toe into? One that many musicians have found themselves in lately, where existence is murky and ill-defined.
What does it mean for a band to break-up anymore? LCD Soundsystem took the stage recently at the inaugural Panorama festival, only a few miles from where they died five years ago. They headlined Coachella alongside Guns ‘n’ Roses, a band many would have taken in a life-or-death game of What Band Will Never Reunite?. Sleater-Kinney reconvened and provided one of the best albums of 2015. The Avalanches got back together and dropped their much awaited sequel 15 years after their debut. Wolf Parade are playing live again and on track to release a new album in the near future. As I write this, Frank Ocean is seemingly holding his finger inches above a button that would disseminate his long awaited sophomore album Boys Don’t Cry, unsure if he actually wants to press it and fully re-enter the world he’s been away from since Channel Orange.
Whether it’s the allure of lucrative festival spots, the desire to get the creative juices going again, or a mix of both, artists are finding it increasingly difficult to not shoot a “How are you?” text to their exes. The time between the break-up and the reunion then becomes its own kind of Void, where the band both exists and doesn’t. It’s this landscape of simultaneous existence and inexistence that Krill found themselves surveying. Instead of merely taking a hiatus and pushing off a final decision to some far away future the band definitively ended things last fall.
“Krill Forever” was never meant to be taken seriously. What small indie band could stare at the crowded music industry and declare their inalienable immortality? It’s a rallying cry for throwing yourself headlong into a pursuit, even if you know it won’t last forever. And knowing something has an expiration date is only more reason to truly give it your all, because today can be as good as forever.
Closer “Billy”, which will almost assuredly be the last song we hear from Krill, provides a fitting end. The final minute builds faster and faster, surely leading to a final explosion, a release of everything Krill was back into the universe. The final crash ringing out and seemingly never ending, finding a home in all of us. But it never comes, the song abruptly cuts off, seconds short of that release. The silence is as loud of a statement about the finality of their decision to call it quits as anything else.
This EP serves as a time capsule of a band confronting the realities of today’s industry. It’s easy to exist in a state of limbo, ready to drop a surprise return album at any minute or continue not being a band, leaving the ending ambiguous. A band that often sang about the oppressions of anxiety, indecision, and self-doubt made a bold, definitive decision. Krill is unambiguous in what it says about Krill’s past, present, and future. It’s a final declaration that nothing lasts forever. /- Matthew Ellis
hi everyone —
we wanted to share with you this last thing we made, from beyond the grave, some new old krill. we are still no longer a band, but were working on this in the final days of krill. we decide to call it ‘krill’. we recorded it at the holy silent barn with julian and carlos.
much love to everyone who supported us and ever had a hand in this thing. long live EIS. thanks again.
PEACE < : <: