Kristoffer by Kiirstin Marilyn is a heartfelt love letter to her older brother who passed away in 2021. The EP is Brimming with emotion. It celebrates his life while tackling the themes of loss, love, and grief that come from losing someone so close to you. The EP explores these themes through an alt-rock lens, using nonlinear storytelling excellently to cover the complex train of thought that often comes with grief.
Beginning with Beyond the Bad, the song follows the narrative of Kiirstin scrolling on her phone and seeing photos of her brother. It takes her back to the moment she found out he had passed. She aptly describes how our brains focus on these potent emotional moments. The song does a great job of exploring how sensitive the triggers that remind us can be. The swell of emotion, brought on by the layers of strings in the second half washes over the listener, punctuating the gravitas of the EP while also giving context through the lyrics that lay the foundation for songs to come.
Real Life, is one of my favorite tracks on the EP, conveying more of a heavy rock energy, the song explores an aspect of trauma I haven’t seen covered often. This false sense of numbness and invulnerability is something I think a lot of people would be able to relate to when dealing with tough times in life. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to pretend you didn’t need to process and instead turn off those feelings. “Why do I try, if the world’s given up, so am I.” This sense of feeling cynical and jaded in the face of intense emotional distress is something that feels true and honest. I like how its sentiment is matched with the crunchy rock distortion, hiding that vulnerability.
Train Tracks connects the raw honesty of the first track with the energy and confidence of Real Life. Reminiscing on the past, Train Tracks recalls the adventures Kiirstin used to have with her brother. In those moments she feels safe and instrumental marches with the confidence to match. Then in the chorus, it feels like she has snapped back to the present, frustrated with herself for living in the past.
Older, the final track on the EP is written from the perspective of Kristoffer, thinking about his younger sister. It’s a real punch in the gut and ends the EP on a heartbreaking note. I think the concept of hiding parts of yourself from your sibling to look after her “trying to protect you, kid, from the things that I did” paints a picture of the pain and the beauty in their relationship and it’s that contrast that makes the EP so fantastic.
The EP is heartfelt and honest and its balance between different timelines and perspectives explores grief, love, and loss in an interesting and deeply human way. I’m glad I got the chance to listen to Kristoffer, it blew me away from start to finish.