June 10, 2021 2 min read
Finding your voice is one thing, finding your voice in a group is another. Taylor Kraemer (she/they), eventual vocalist and keytarist of VIAL, returned with purpose from a Minneapolis house show in 2019. Inspired by thelackof a specific sound that night, she brought in two friends from after-school music lessons, guitarist KT Branscom (they/them) and bassist Kate Kanfield (they/them). 24 hours and a band Tinder account later, VIAL matched with drummer Katie Fischer (she/they) after being stunned by the pep band snare on her profile. This speedy start gave way to fierce momentum: releasing debut LPGrow Upto critical acclaim the same year, being crowned Best New Band by their hometown’sCity Pagesthe next, and charming a growing audience on TikTok on the road to their sophomore album. And they did it by shouting together.
VIAL thrives on uneven odds. It’s what their indie-punk anthems shout for best: subverting the male gaze by ignoring it altogether, creating DIY-or-die communities that proclaim the future is queer, and dialing into a sound that nods lovingly to non-male fury past and present. Sophomore LPLOUDMOUTHhas plenty of landmarks for embarrassing unremarkable losers. Head to “Planet Drool,” a world populated by dry sarcasm and sci-fi synths, where hell breaks loose on macho dudes. “Mr. Fuck You” is a kiss-off without the cushion, a slamming rocker with a relentless double-time outro. While venom is spat through most of the album’s runtime, VIAL finds time for “Thumb,” a fuzz-pop moment sporting a melody that snugly coils around a worried heart, and the trickles of new-wave giving “Something More” more brightness than bite.
Producer Henry Stoehr (Slow Pulp) approaches the band’s core tenacity with an open heart, unleashing energy informed by guts, not necessarily genre. After all, this is an album that begins with a track like “Ego Death,” a venomous punk track that dips in and out of carnivalesque pacing. WithLOUDMOUTH, the quartet reclaims what it means to be ringmaster. And in VIAL’s three-ring circus, they have no room for clowns. -- James Cassar
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