Killed by 9V Batteries never planned to record an album. All the band intended to do was score a short film frontman Wolfgang Möstl was making. But before the Austrian quartet could finish, its members decided they'd rather be rock stars.
Killed by 9V Batteries hearkens back to the early days of the Sub Pop label, when grunge wasn't yet synonymous with flannel and distorted guitars were king. But that doesn't mean the band is stuck in the past. Instead, Killed by 9V Batteries mixes fuzzy guitars with a little pop, falling in line with other bands such as Japandroids or Male Bonding (itself a recent Sub Pop recruit).
In "Worst of Total Anarchy," the first single from the band's upcoming third album, The Crux, the guitar screeches like a rusty front-porch swing. Though it's hard to ignore, it never gets grating thanks to the group's knack for layering. Each instrument seems to have its rightful place, never overstaying its welcome or getting lost in the fray.
While each instrument works hard to do its part, Möstl sounds like he's singing lines as they come to him. He sounds almost blasé about the whole thing, but thanks to a few well-placed snarls, he brings out the song's subtle naughtiness.
Wolfgang Möstl never finished his movie, but has made many of the band's videos, including "Impulse Control."
The Crux will be available digitally in the U.S. on Sept. 30.