The cover of Pool Kids’ self-titled release (2022) provides an enigmatic introduction to the work. Possibly, a window into a dream/liminal space set in Tallahassee for the listener to explore.
Track 1 "Unconscious Coupling" is a gentle push into the thick of this album’s story, both lyrically and musically. It quickly becomes obvious that these musicians know their instruments, effects, and voices very well, making it clear what they want to convey with them. Most notable in this track is its finale that includes both an abrupt rise in tempo and change of cadence.
Track 2 "That’s Physics Baby" displays what are almost required staples of modern Math Rock music: tapping guitar riffs and odd/changing time signatures. The vocals and their melodies fit so pleasantly into the mix with the rest of the instruments, keeping the project thus far extremely cohesive.
As the album progresses, Goodwyne’s lyrics have recurring themes of “playing pretend” and couches, motifs that sit nicely with the dreamy and liminal space-like tones heard and felt throughout the work as a whole. Goodwyne and guitarist Andrew Anaya display their strength as a songwriting duo working toward one large idea, with vocals and instruments hitting both high and low points in unison, as well as occupying different spaces in the compositions.
"Shallow" opens with a strong and driving section in 7/4, which is quickly exited for 4/4 as the song to progresses into new territories. It is truly beautiful how this track weaves seamlessly between these two time signatures. Complexity is best served with a large side of purpose. This track, along with" Waking Up" have a darker tone and may represent the “Ordeal” or “Abyss” of a hero’s journey.
The following (and final) two tracks, then, are the road back.
Pool Kids, as an album, is best listened to in one sitting. While all tracks do stand well on their own, the context of the surrounding compositions make them even more enjoyable. The album is clean; every sound it contains has a comfortable place to sit. The engineering/mastering team of Mike Vernon Davis, Sam Rosson, Jacob Barrow, and João Carvalho did a beautiful job of bringing this project to life in the way it was meant to be.
I recommend this release to those who enjoyed Enemies’ final album, ’Valuables’ (2016).
writer: Jack Duros