Kermes are a queer indie-punk quartet from Leicester who are signed to Robot Needs Home. They’re set to release their debut album ‘We Choose Pretty Names’ on 13 April and it’s a record that – like their soon-to-be tour mates itoldyouiwouldeatyou – tackles important and timely subjects ranging from mental health and misoginy to gender identity, capitalism and living in a divisive society.
Produced by John Helps of Maybeshewill and mastered by Forward Russia’s Tom Woodhead, the album opens with a burst of Johnny Foreigner-esque feedback on ‘I Wanna Be Yours Sometimes’. This song has a killer chorus and bouncy outlook that are at odds with Emily Rose Teece’s downbeat and self-reflective lyrics including ‘I lost control on the outside’. The calls for support continue on ‘The Argonauts’ (‘Hold me like you always do, hold me like I wanted you), although here it’s wrapped up in a sound that combines intense drums that echo The Walkmen’s ‘The Rat’ with Echo and the Bunnymen-style resonance. After two or three songs in, you can tell that Kermes are a band willing to display their emotions, especially when they throw in the occasional bout of early Los Camp-style shouting to really emphasise their point.
‘Casting the Creatures’ has increasingly desperate yelps of ‘You weren’t the only one’ and finds the band stating that so many people give up on their dreams and mean so much to others that they can’t possibly comprehend while ‘Questioning’ offers a change in tone with a more post-punk direction and the statement: ‘I’ve got one too many regrets. Let’s just drive into the sunset’. It’s a journey you’ll want to embark on…
The atmospheric and Sparklehorse-esque twinkle of ‘Boyfriend’ slows things down a little before emotions understandably run high on the jagged indie pop of ‘Time to Shut Him Up’: ‘You want to be an idol, you want to be an icon’; ‘Here’s one for the girls, protect in what you’re worth’. There is real passion in the screams of the title that complements the gentle backing vocals and increasingly frantic rhythm section. ‘You’re on your own, you’re holding on’ are spat out with a sense of desperation and hope that the subject can save themselves from further abuse.
‘Ready for Love’ is a quirky and avant pining-for-love song with a plea to be told good news and hope that someone can be happy in themselves when they find companionship: ‘What if you’re not ready, what if you’re not ready for love?’, while final duo of the title track and ‘Yr Beast’ are both honest pieces, the latter of which finds Emily defiantly celebrating who she is and her identity as a trans woman: ‘You’re queer and you’re visible and your life now means more to all of these people who would take you and break you up into pieces when you step out of line’; ‘I’m not sorry for the state of my body’