A lot has changed in the three years that have passed since the release of Krewella‘s debut album Get Wet – back in 2013. The turbulent relationship between the driving creative forces behind the former trio have been well publicized at this point and need little repeating here.
The three piece EDM outfit was reduced to a duo composed of sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf after the departure of Kris Trindle A.K.A. “Rainman,” after which a lawsuit ensued and was settled outside of the courts, and a whole lot of unnecessary hate was relentlessly levelled against the two remaining founding members in the wake of all the drama. The sisters released a mere handful of tracks during that time period and it seemed that the future of one of dance music’s brightest groups was uncertain.
So when Krewella dropped a surprise freestyle video earlier in the month to announce that new material was on the horizon, dance music fans were naturally caught up in the fervor. The Ammunition EP, a collection of six new songs that represent the sister’s latest evolution, serves as the first major release from Krewella since their debut album and the departure of Rainman. And boy is it good to have them back. Ammunition is a genre spanning release that sees the duo taking influence from a wide variety of styles, from trap and drum and bass to rock and pop, all seamlessly blended into the duo’s signature brand of vocal dominated dance music.
The Diskord assisted “Beggars” served as the first taste of the new EP prior to its release and is also the most energetic song on the collection. Complete with Krewella’s angsty approach to songwriting, “Beggars” features frantically delivered verses, grinding bass work and anthemic choruses. Everything about this song sounds huge, and the catchy vocal hooks will you have you screaming along before the track ends. It plays out as the theme song ushering in Krewella’s angry return, and the message is clear: to hell with all the haters.
“Broken Record” is another high energy production in the trap vein, featuring booming 808 kicks and skittering hi-hats broiling beneath the sister’s recognizable crooning. The EP’s second track throws the listener between extremes, ranging from soulful vocal driven sections to pounding heaviness with just a twinge of metal influence to boot.
“Marching On” opens quietly with hushed synths and gentle vocals, but don’t let that fool you. The drops are dominated by pummeling tribal percussion and the shouted refrain of “We’re marching on,” declaring the group’s ethos to never look back. The dynamic shift from restrained verses to explosive drops makes “Marching On” an exciting thrill ride that sees Krewella trying their hand at a new sound palette.
“Surrender The Throne” opens with a spellbinding guitar interlude that’s shorty joined by Krewella’s aggressive yet melodic vocal style. This drum and bass inspired tune received some help from long-time collaborators Pegboard Nerds, who’ve assisted the duo with production work in the past. Following the stripped back verses, “Surrender The Throne” dives head first into rapid fire DnB drops with a soaring horn section and blaring Reese bass driving up the energy.
The first few moments of the EP’s title track, “Ammunition,” sound like the opening to an Indie rock track, with clean guitar plucks echoing in the distance leading up to the first hit of a kick drum. The instrumentation is also quite sparse compared to the heavier tracks on the collection, consisting largely of swelling synth pads, vocals and trap-y snare rolls.
It’s the poppiest cut on the EP for sure, and also the least likely to satisfy EDM fans. And though it might not be as memorable as tracks like “Beggars” or “Surrender The Throne,” the downtempo pop effort still has plenty to offer, giving us a chance to see the sisters let their songwriting stand on its own for a change.
“Can’t Forget You” serves as Ammunition’s closer and follows in a similar vein as the EP’s title track. Any semblance of EDM influence is virtually excised for the final song as the sisters focus entirely on crafting memorable vocal takes and lyrical hooks
Ammunition doesn’t attempt to recreate the success of Get Wet, and for good reason. Krewella would have had a difficult time in 2016 repeating the dubstep and electro infused formula they used so successfully on their first album, and the duo instead opt to further explore their tunefulness and song-oriented mentality that helped set them apart from an endless horde of DJs in the first place. They must’ve known that there would be considerable pressure to re-invent their sound in the absence of Rainman’s production prowess, and they’ve risen to the occasion to push their stylistic boundaries.
Their lyrical content has evolved as well, and the pet topics of sex and partying that dominated so many songs on Get Wet don’t really rear their face here. That’s not to say Ammunition is less exciting than former releases though, as there’s still plenty of rage-worthy tracks to satiate fans. Thematically, Jahan and Yasmine seem to address the personal issues they’ve dealt with as part of the Krew over the years and it feels like a much more mature approach to songwriting than what we’ve heard in the past.
There’s a lot of praise to be given to Krewella for broadening their horizons in search of a new sound to define the dance pop outfit, and Ammunition feels like the result of three years worth of feuding, struggling and soul searching colliding in one career defining explosion. The new songs all feel like an indication of the future of Krewella, complete with a matured sound and a new attitude, leaving us extremely excited to hear what’s next.
Krewella proves the haters wrong with their explosive Ammunition EP, which sees EDM's sister act fronting a matured sense of songwriting and exploring their sound in a post-Rainman environment.