Mike Krol Credit: Brian Guido

Mike Krol makes the kind of distorted pop-rock that’s so sunny it’s liable to burn you till your skin peels. He’s a devoted student of the decades-old magic that allows punk fury and pop sweetness to coexist, which is why the songs on his fourth album, January’s Power Chords (Merge), feel familiar at first listen. And though the relatively languid, beachside tune “Blue and Pink” tips its hat to the long-standing fascination that Beach Boys-style has with the sand and ocean, when Krol sings wanting to feel palm trees fall and flatten his body it’s clear he knows that even paradise can fail to cure what ails him. Krol ain’t trying to reinvent the wheel, he’s just trying to outdo himself: he wants his rock to hit harder and more accurately, and his melodies to linger longer. He’s true to the history and spirit of 60s rock culture, but also knows he needs to futz around with it; when he interrupts the furious fuzz of “Little Drama” for an oh-so-clean chorus and a limber Krautrock bridge, he supersizes the song’s sense of urgency.   v