Kiev's Bichkraft return with 800, another entry in their unique take on the shoegaze and post-punk traditions. After refining their approach on their two previous albums, they exude overwhelming confidence on each track of their new LP. And while the band's penchant for devolving into noisy experimentation remains throughout, it doesn't take many listens to recognize the album's strong execution. For it is the songs, coupled with the nervous energy behind them, that propels 800 forward more than anything else. With Carson Cox of Merchandise handling production, Bichkraft's dense riffage and thumping drum machines are brought to the forefront with greater clarity than ever before.
This is not to say that the band ceases to be weird in the most compelling ways. Album openers "Reflection" and "Ashley" are as close to pop perfection as the group has come, with Dima Novichenko's and Jenia Bichowski's guitar interplay taking center stage. Yet the whirling breakdown in the middle of "Introducing Yourself" reminds the listener how willing they are to cede control to chaos. Sam York (WALL) lends anxious vocals to the track, as does Elizabeth Skadden (Finally Punk, WALL) on the freeform and prosaic closer "Some People Have All The Luck," a collaboration that feels at home here thanks to the collaborators' talents for sculpting tense and foreboding soundscapes.