“All your grand plans and gritted teeth / All your pride / They’ll cut you down to count the rings / Measure out your worst years.”The strings rattle. The guitars crackle and blister. The notes ring out, at turns bleak and beautiful—sometimes both at once. Grievances, the third album from Kowloon Walled City and their first for Neurot Recordings, finds the San Francisco band at its artistic peak, having moved even further from its sludgy, post-hardcore origins toward a sparser, sadder yet still de-tuned heaviness. This shift began with 2012’s critically successful Container Ships, which Lambgoat described as “spacious” and “mildly hypnotic,” with a “Shellac-like use of dead time and instrumentation,” and The Obelisk called “cerebral in approach.” On Grievances, the band takes these elements to even greater extremes.Guitarist Jon Howell’s unusual chord changes and discordant aesthetic channel Unwound and Slint. Bassist Ian Miller’s gritty bass adds a surprising layer of depth and melody, while drummer Jeff Fagundes’s drums resonate in what sounds like an impossibly large room. Vocalist and guitarist Scott Evans’s shouted vocals are raw with frustration and disappointment, but without the typical veneer of macho aggression.The concept of work forms the thematic foundation of the entire record, from the cover art to the title and the lyrics. Whereas previous Kowloon Walled City releases were largely inspired by the band’s hometown of San Francisco, Grievances focuses its attention on the complex relationships with work and the power one’s employment—and employers—has over us.