Krewella – Ammunition (Track by Track Review)

Label: Columbia Records

Release: May 20, 2016

Genre: Dance

Review by Angus McColl of Burning Anchor Music.

krewella

After the release of two extended plays and a fantastically diverse debut album, Krewella return with a genre-blending 6 track extended play which clearly represents their evolving sound and direction whilst simultaneously showing their haters that they can create quality music.

In 2014 we saw the contested departure of Krewella’s third member Kris Trindl (commonly known as Rain Man), the the main producer of the group alongside vocalists Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf. After a public lawsuit and multiple tweets from progressive house producer deadmau5, Krewella quickly became one of the most hated musicians in EDM.

However they came back swinging in 2015 with rock infused dance, Justice & Daft Punk inspired single “Somewhere to Run” which saw some of this hatred reversed, at least by critics. It was only till the end of April 2016 in which Krewella’ saw the light of day again with the release of the single “Beggars” alongside UK dubstep duo Diskord. This is where the Ammunition EP starts.

Track 1: Beggars. (with Diskord)

Writers: Jahan Yousaf, Yasmine Yousaf, Matt Squire, Edward Klosk, & James Logan.

Producers: Diskord

Beggars,the only collaboration to appear on the EP; is a cathartic, bass pumping track which introduces Ammunition with a bang rather than a fizzle. It’s punk inspired lyrics (”They took your money and your freedom and your time / They almost took it all but they’ll never take your mind.”) show the sisters delving deeper lyrically into darker territories than top 40 hit “Alive” or the Cash Cash produced “Live for the Night” from their debut “Get Wet”. The production, handled by Diskord is creative musically as different sections of the track foreshadow the next 5 songs on the EP. “Surrender the Throne” for example is represented by the Drum and Bass in the second chorus, whilst the melodic bridge is not dissimilar to the background melodies in “Marching On”. Despite not being produced by the sisters (just like the rest of the EP) their vocals are stronger than seen in previous bodies of work. The only thing done wrong in the lead single is the drop; it doesn’t match the rest of the song. Yes it’s a good drop, yes it (sort-of) flows with the lead-up but it doesn’t have the cathartic effect the verse and chorus does.The track overall turns out to be an anthem for listeners who take themselves as ‘the underdogs’ and is sure to be a great hit to play during their upcoming Sweatbox Tour. – 4.5/5

Track 2: Broken Record

Writers: Jahan Yousaf, Yasmine Yousaf, Oliver Lord, John Thomas Roach, Matt Klosk and James Logan.

Producers: Diskord & Oliver Lord.

Broken Record tells the story of Rain Man’s rough departure from the trio turned duo in this emotional piece. Although it drags on due to it’s slow moving lead up courtesy of producers Diskord and Oliver Lord, the track is still impressive. Lyrically, the promotional single is stronger than anything they’ve written in previous tracks released (except maybe Say Goodbye, a.k.a the 2014 drum & bass underdog single). With descriptive and understandable lines, a clear picture is painted with in the first 30 seconds of the song – (”You lit a cigarette as i watched you walk away / Turned to a silhouette but your words will never fade.”) Refreshing vocal chops keep the track interesting for the most part especially in the rock inspired drop, but the song is too slow for it to stay this way for long. – 3/5

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Track 3: Marching On

Writers: Jahan Yousaf, Yasmine Yousaf, Nick Furlong & Andrew Goldstein

Producer: Andrew Goldestein.

Marching On picks up the pace on the Ammunition road trip with it’s vocal focus and killer drop. The girl’s vocals are crisp and clear in the third track as they sing about powering through everything they’ve had to go through in the past two years. The drop is the clear highlight however; with it’s heavy drums, middle-eastern inspiration, and the chanting of “We’re marching on!”, the fast pitched drop creates, shall i say “an absolute banger” of a track. It flows from its predecessor Broken Record with it’s fairly quiet verses but distances itself with it’s louder, larger chorus and drops. Despite somewhat weaker lyrics (“Tonight, you could be my new revival / In my mind we could go a thousand miles”). The song, which was premiered on Proximity the night before the extended play’s release is definitely one of the more interesting tracks. – 4/5.

Track 4: Surrender The Throne

Writers: Jahan Yousaf, Yasmine Yousaf

Producers: Don Gilmore, Pegboard Nerds.

Surrender The Throne continues the fast paced madness of Marching On with it’s heavy drum and bass influences. The track starts off with a dissonant guitar melody leading into Yasmine’s vocals kick off with the eerie lyric “Can you hear the sirens? We’re coming for your crown.” The drums aren’t slow to come in before the title of the song “Surrender The Throne” is repeated about 30 times too many in the lead up. The lead up does it’s job beautifully as it flows and connects into the drop/chorus which features a surprising horn section thanks to producers Don Gilmore and Pegboard Nerds; (who both produced the 2015 single Somewhere to Run.) The most indie rock section of the entire EP is seen in the bridge with solely claps and male backup vocalists accompanying the sisters. The song, despite being the shortest on Ammunition is one of the strongest if not the strongest if you excuse the vocal awkwardness in the second verse and unnecessary repetition of the words “Surrender The Throne”. – 4/5

If you really like this song, and also happen to be a fan of Game of Thrones then you’ll enjoy this.

Track 5: Ammunition

Writers: Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf

Producer: Andrew Goldstein

The title track of this so far great extended play is the most musically diverse track to appear with its trap like snare rolls, electric guitar and  its Pakistani influenced vocals in the drop. The vocals in this slow paced piece climax with the line at the end of the bridge “Put you in the gun and the gun kicks back.” The breathy tone of the vocals are a clear undertone of this song and this song alone which is how it distances itself from ever other Krewella song in history. The lyrics are fairly tame and show evidence of a punk rock inspiration (for example “Say my name again / Watch me start a riot.”) Paramore reference perhaps? The title track is a standout with it’s great detail in production. There are many layers to the song that are almost impossible to notice including the grungy guitar in the drop and the 808′s in the outro. The song present a clear direction in which the sisters are headed in alongside its counterparts in the EP. – 4.5/5

Track 6: Can’t Forget You

Writers: Jahan Yousaf, Yasmine Yousaf, John Thomas Roach

Producer: Stephen Swartz

The closing track on the Ammunition EP begins with a slow and steady electric guitar with smooth, calmer vocals which make it a great exit track for the body of work. It then moves into a slow trap like lead-up before grateful sounding chorus. It then does this once more before a guitar oriented bridge and a chorus with more passionate vocals and added layering. Despite being a sweet and suitable closing track for Ammunition, Can’t Forget You does not have a lot to offer even though it’s predominantly an indie-pop song rather than an electro/dubstep piece from which Krewella rose to fame. – 3.5/5

Overall Ammunition is an outstanding piece of work which just extends the diverse range of musical styles in which Krewella have successfully manipulated to create fine music.. Ammunition seems to be the most musically honest that the two have been in their careers so far, which makes it their most impressive effort to date. Even promotion for Ammunition’s release has been honest and raw.

Ammunition is not an attempt at recreating the music and success of their debut album Get Wet. It’s a darker, more mature body of work which likely won’t hit #1 of all the charts. But it’s a step forward for the trio turned duo now only containing Yasmine & Jahan Yousaf. They are definitely headed in a good direction, because if they were to attempt another Get Wet it would probably be a disaster because sequels are always worse than the original.

Despite some songs not being polished enough both in production and in writing, every song on the six track extended play has at least one thing to offer.  I give the sisters props for the change in style and effective blending of rock and electronic music considering that when an artist blends two distinctly different genres together it often doesn’t go well.

Average: 3.9/5

Flow: 3.5/5

Diversity: 5/5

Lyric Writing: 4/5

Production: 4.5/5

OVERALL RATING – 4/5

A solid EP which should leave hardcore members of the ‘Krew’ satisfied whilst also branching their fan base into rock orientated listeners.

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