Mike Krol – Turkey (Album Review, Stream)
by Steven Spoerl
With an incredibly strong Tuesday already transitioning to the rear view, it would have made sense to see a drop in content release but a lot of places seemed intent on following other plans leading to a Wednesday that was just as overflowing with great material. Shit Present unveiled a spiky EP debut of Salinas-brand pop-punk and The School revealed something resembling a low-key indie pop masterpiece in Wasting Away and Wondering. Hurry Up, Spray Paint, Julia Holter, Telekinesis, Moses Sumney, Heaters, Jono McCleery, Weyes Blood, Haybaby, and See Through Dresses all released excellent new songs while exemplary music videos got brought out by the likes of Girls Names, Vaadat Charigim, Shy Kids, Postcards From Jeff, Glen Hansard, Sporting Life, PILL, Wet Nurse, and Low Fat Getting High (whose director this time around, A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor Stephen Tringali, continues to do masterful work with desolate landscapes and imagery rooted in magic surrealism). Merge also surprised everyone with a stream of one of the year’s best records, Mike Krol’s Turkey.
After posting Krol’s ridiculously enjoyable video for “Neighborhood Watch” yesterday, the full album has finally arrived. Since a lot ground was already covered in the “Neighborhood Watch” write-up, I’ll forego some of that reviews focal points (the historical context of his long-standing Sleeping in the Aviary connection and his other past work) to focus on the material at hand. Before I get lost fawning over Sleeping in the Aviary- one of the most crushingly under-recognized bands of recent times- I’ll merely state that their impact can be felt all over Turkey (they’re essentially Krol’s backing band, after all) and Turkey seems to pick up right around where Sleeping in the Aviary’s 2011 swan song, You and Me, Ghost left off in terms of stylistic approach.
Turkey is a different beast than its string of predecessors from either the man at the center of the project or the band he’s continued to incorporate into his project. Nearly every track of the formidable blitz that is Turkey seems wild-eyed and feral, largely eschewing grace in favor of brute force. In more than a few ways it recalls Lost Boy ? at their most ferocious, precariously balancing a delirious mental state with a bevvy of seemingly unchecked aggression. The difference maker here is the brevity, which is wielded like a weapon and utilized to frightening perfection.
Only one song on Turkey eclipses the two and a half minute mark, effectively rendering Turkey a barrage of quick hits. A normal detractor in this case is that in a flurry of blows, some of the shots can lose their power- a pitfall that Turkey overcomes with ease. Likely due to the fact that Krol’s boiled his peculiar model of songwriting down to an art form (Merge did sign him, after all), it’s an extremely impressive achievement nonetheless. With the exception of the gorgeous but ultimately irreverent closing track (“Piano Shit” is as apt as a title as any I’ve seen this year), every song on Turkey could work as a standalone single or cut through a crowded mixtape with ease.
When “This Is The News” was originally unveiled last month, expectations for Turkey skyrocketed but still allowed for a host of variables to diminish the extreme impact of its lead-off single. Looking back and taking into consideration Krol’s enviable long-term consistency and career track, the suggestion that Turkey would be anything other than a powerhouse release seems ridiculous. Now that it’s actually here, though, it’s unlikely that anyone could have fathomed the extent of how high-impact this record would wind up being. While it’s likely still too early to call it a genre masterpiece, the temptation’s already starting to build. Arriving at the precise intersection of basement pop and basement punk, allowing for a host of outlying genre influences (doo-wop and soul play key parts in the band’s atomic chemistry).
Nine songs of pure cathartic release, this easily ranks among the very best of 2015. Played with feeling, fearlessness, and an excessive amount of verve, Turkey is a new career benchmark for one of the sharpest talents to emerge out of the upper Midwest (between this, Tenement’s Predatory Headlights, and a small handful of other notable releases, the region’s composing a powerful run). Already nearly a dozen listens in since receiving new of the stream yesterday, I can personally attest to the fact that it’s addictive, it rewards investment, and retains enough punch to ensure it an unlikely level of longevity. Smart, catchy, and a blinding entry into a genre intersection that isn’t always afforded the luxury of national attention (something Turkey has a decent shot at, thanks to Merge’s involvement), this is a record worth purchasing several times over. Lay it all on the line and dive into this thing headfirst, the fall in will be worth it every time.
Listen to Turkey below and pre-order a copy from Merge ahead of its Friday release here.