Release Date: 12th October 2021
Label: Royal Mountain Records
For Fans Of: Amyl and the Sniffers, Muncie Girls, Pillow Queens
There are moments on Married where Kills Birds sound like they’re about to fall apart—physically and emotionally. Lead singer Nina Ljeti wails like she’s forgotten the mics are still on, while the jangly punk trio push their instruments beyond the red. It’s unhinged, ferocious, and the future.
Despite being based in LA, there is little sunlight in their second offering. Heavy distortion, booming drums and constant ferocity pours out of every note. Yet somehow it’s not bleak. Through all the yelling and breakdowns, they maintain a sense of fun that always shines through. It’s rage-fuelled punk that doesn’t take itself too seriously, heart-on-sleeve rock with a smirk.
Married comes amid a wave of women-led punk bands that are breaking speakers around the world. Lande Hekt’s solo album arrived in January, kick starting a year that also saw brilliant albums from Amyl and the Sniffers and The Velveteers—amid countless others. A male-dominated scene is cracking, allowing new voices in, rejuvenating a stagnating genre in the process. And the old guard knows this too: The Velveteers come with Dan Auerbach’s blessing, while Kills Birds have the support of rock’s pope, Dave Grohl.
Punk’s biggest strength, its three-chord simplicity, can also be its biggest limitation. However, this new crop of jagged rock groups, of whom Kill Birds are now at the forefront, have found the space to reinvent it. ‘Cough Up Cherries’ captures this. Ljeti’s voice dances between apathetic verses and frantic choruses, reflecting the disparity between our inner and outer voices. The guitars simmer while the drums rage, again basking in the contrast. Meanwhile, the charmingly melodic ‘Natalie’ sticks in your head for hours, pairing catchy vocals with caustic guitars.
Nowhere is the record’s dynamism more evident than on closer ‘Married.’ Opening with soft vocals and acoustic strums, it ends in complete chaos: Ljeti releases a guttural scream, instruments feedback in a violent wall of noise, drumsticks seemingly collide with anything in the room. Then a slow fade out. It’s no less a finale than this record deserves.
Recommended Track: ‘Cough Up Cherries’