Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like modern life gets stranger by the day, but fortunately LURK are here to help us all lean into the absurdity. The Chicago band’s debut full-length, Around The Sun, is about trying to make the most of your time in a weird new world, all through a whirlwind amalgam of proto-punk eccentricity, new wave swagger, and hardcore ferocity that’s as unique as it is catchy.
LURK—comprised of vocalist Kevin Kiley, drummer Pedro Unzueta, bassist Dan Durley, and guitarists Alex Rackow and Kevin Maida—got their start in 2017 when the members decided to scrap their previous musical project in favor of something more unrestrained. “We were all playing together in this other band, but we were starting to feel burnt out and limited,” recalls Kiley. “We all come from punk and we wanted to do something that was sort of ‘Ramones meets Devo meets B52s meets The Cramps.’ A lot of those older bands could be pretty out-there, and punk can still be out-there if you want it to be.”
LURK’s willingness to merge disparate influences into something distinctive might be their greatest strength, and Around The Sun bursts with the energy and confidence of a band who have truly come into their own. “There isn’t really anything else in Chicago that sounds like us,” Kiley says. “We’re kind of the oddball but we like it that way.” Produced and engineered by Andy Nelson (Jesus Piece, Harms Way, Weekend Nachos) at Bricktop Recording, Around The Sun careens through sounds and styles with reckless abandon, but LURK will an impressive sense of cohesion into the 10 songs through sheer force of daring creativity. “We have such a wide array of interests that it can be hard to incorporate all those elements, but we never want to take one influence too far,” Kiley says. “If something sounds super poppy we try to fuck it up, if something sounds really harsh then we try to make it sound catchy as well.”
Opener “Chromosome” catapults the listener into Around The Sun’s roller coaster dynamics, starting with a synth swell and a few seconds of subdued guitar before a blast of distortion and drums sends the song flying. Kiley’s vocals are part-shouted, part-sung, and all energy as he laments the pressure to set aside your passions or dreams as you age out of adolescence. “You only have one chance,” Kiley says. “But the older you get the more you get grief and eye rolls for trying to do what you really want to do.” That all-too-common tension between aspiration and security is felt on songs like the anthemic “Strut” or the album-closing title track, making the constant passing of time as ever-present on Around The Sun as Unzueta’s powerhouse drumming. “Pursuing something creative can seem like a stupid risk to a lot of people,” Kiley says. “But that’s overridden by your passion for it. You just feel compelled to do it, you won’t regret it even if you faceplant.”
Elsewhere, on tracks like “Top Secret,” “See-Thru,” or “Pressure Points,” Maida and Rackow fuse biting punk riffs with Unzueta and Durley’s danceable rhythm section, while Kiley’s lyrics tackle other contemporary madnesses like the inescapable shadow of the internet and all the frustrations that come with it. The vocalist has little time for pretentious or judgemental attitudes—or the self-made digital enclosures that foster them. “It’s so easy now to just surround yourself with people who are just like you, but I don’t think that’s healthy,” he explains. Kiley accepts that there’s a certain amount of unpredictability in life and after a mid-tour trip to emergency surgery to have his appendix removed he was inspired to write “Bermuda.” The dream-like instrumental finds LURK taking a detour into near-psychedelic territory as Kiley sings about suddenly feeling far removed from his normal life in an unfamiliar place.
On “Crack A Smile”—an album standout that features perhaps the most gargantuan chorus on a record full of sing-along-ready refrains—Kiley’s snarling hooks are layered with falsetto harmonies as he sings, “Don’t have to stay forever / but I hope you stay awhile / I hope you enjoy the weather / I hope you crack a smile.” It’s LURK’s freakout take on a feel good summer hit, but it also comes off like a defiant mission statement: life is often uncertain, unusual, and even unfair, but if you’re willing to try and find it, there’s joy in the strangeness.