Scarypoolparty
The Act of Forgiveness


5.0
classic

Review

by Sowing STAFF
August 28th, 2021 | 126 replies


Release Date: 08/27/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A wild exhibition of talent from a pop music prodigy

Full disclosure: I've never heard of Scarypoolparty before. I wasn't keenly aware that it was the project of Alejandro Aranda - the runner-up of the seventeenth American Idol season - nor that he had already achieved acclaim for 2019's Exit Form or 2020's Doom Hologram. I don't even watch American Idol. All I knew at the time was that I had this sprawling, gorgeously arranged pop/jazz/soul/electronic mixture at my disposal, and I let it wash over me like a wave. All twenty-one tracks of it. And I'll tell you with the utmost sincerity that it's been a long time since an album has made me feel this way: warm, safe, and in love; spellbound, slack-jawed, and scrambling to find the right words; so excited that I literally couldn't wait to tell somebody about it - in this case you. That's how good The Act of Forgiveness is: it inspires raw and genuine enthusiasm in a way that so few mainstream pop artists can even dream of mustering from their audience.

The record begins like a string-swept indie folk dream, with 'Daily Dose of Her Smile', 'Poison', and 'Falling Down' sounding like what Ed Sheeran might be if he ever had Radiohead circa A Moon Shaped Pool ambition - it's clearly geared towards a radio audience, but it packs such a flourishing and beautiful energy that you practically never hear anymore. Orchestral violins swell towards the horizon, and pianos rain from the sky with the grace of a classically trained pianist. Aranda's vocals are soft yet poignant and memorable - these unassuming, melodious ballads of earnest romance that will make even the most hardened cynics swoon. With twenty-one tracks to work with, The Act of Forgiveness covers a lot of ground. It expands into electronic and R&B territory across 'Friends', 'Cellphones', and 'Movie Screens', with the middle of those sounding like it could be a House of Balloons bonus track and the latter featuring immersive, aqueous electronic effects that will make you feel like you're being absorbed into the song's namesake. At this point, The Act of Forgiveness begins to unfurl even further, revealing its most beautiful colors and shades on top of what could only be described as an already gorgeous opening sequence.

'Beautiful' is a clear highlight, and is wrapped up in piano notes that cascade across the background while playfully dancing in the foreground - a dizzying moment of enchantment. 'Blesser' might be the best song here, continuing the album's penchant for lushness while whipping out brass woodwinds to accompany one of the experience's grooviest and most soulful choruses. I say this of course knowing that the title track exists, an eleven minute piano suite that sounds like it could have been lifted from the greatest classical compositions of the seventeenth/eighteenth centuries; except Aranda is just that good and this is yet another original and timeless cut. That's followed up immediately by an R&B slow dance of sorts, this stargazing ballad that floats on electronic backbeats, sparse piano, and tender strings called 'Felios' whose emotional impact I can't even begin to describe. 'Lonely Boy' refuses to be outdone, offering up a trumpet/piano interchange that is one of the most regal things I've heard since The National's 'England.' As The Act of Forgiveness progresses, it becomes nearly impossible to keep up with multitude of ways that Alejandro Aranda is talented; still, the album only becomes more diversified and ambitious as it reaches its final stretch. 'Death City Dive' is an eight minute electronic piece whose atmosphere opens up like a ravine, and it's equal parts entrancing and majestic. Before The Act of Forgiveness concludes, Alejandro masters noise rock on 'Spelloutriver' and hip-hop on 'Magic'...but I mean, no big deal, right? It's not like some people spend their whole lives trying to be good at one thing. The curtain closes to one of the most ominous and compelling avant-pop pieces I've heard this decade - thus obliterating any chance of this thing ending forgettably - and it's really just the exclamation point on an album that is enormous both literally and figuratively; a wild exhibition of talent from a pop music prodigy.

This is a record that essentially hits the mark twenty one straight times, for nearly two hours straight. It will steal your breath over and over again while seamlessly weaving its way through some of the most aesthetically striking music that you're likely to hear. It's monumental; a classic from the word go that will fill you with romance, elation, and depression. Scarypoolparty doesn't sound like the name of a project that would deliver such a beautiful and uncompromisingly experimental masterpiece, but that's part of its charm. The Act of Forgiveness is something that no fan of music should miss out on in 2021.

In other news, I guess I need to start watching American Idol.



s
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user ratings (49)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
August 28th 2021


39325 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fuck 2021 and all of its perfect music. I can't even handle this.

Digging: S. Raekwon - Where I'm at Now

Ashtiel
August 28th 2021


1268 Comments


oh i fucking loved Doom Hologram, so stoked to check this.

Teal
August 28th 2021


203 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, I share a lot of your enthusiasm for his work. I love a lot of these songs - Daily Dose, Beautiful, Heat of Desire, The Darkness, Felios, and especially Lonely Boy. The guy's insanely talented. However, despite how rare his work ethic is I feel like this is quantity over quality.



It's never fun to be that guy who suggests an album needs paring down, but I think it's appropriate here. I'd cut the last five songs at a minimum and a few more after that. That said, I love this guy's output. He crafts incredibly gorgeous and varied music. It feels like he's capable of anything at this point. It's exciting to be a fan of his.

Digging: Blood Youth - Visions Of Another Hell

daiguit91Kider
August 28th 2021


36 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

His audition is still the best thing I've seen on american idol, I became a fan since then but still have not loved anything by him or his project. Need to check this one out.



https://youtu.be/MBapLyJY5jo

Gyromania
August 28th 2021


33098 Comments


2 hours? Fuck that

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2021


15237 Comments


What’s wrong with 2 hours of music?

DoofDoof
August 28th 2021


10550 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Scarypoolparty

Pikazilla
August 28th 2021


19133 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"What’s wrong with 2 hours of music?"



Some people on sput work office jobs and don't have lives. Poor sods.

DoofDoof
August 28th 2021


10550 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pika is sponsored by wealthy backers to be here

Gyromania
August 28th 2021


33098 Comments


It's a lot to digest, and I've found 2 hr albums nearly impossible to sit through. 99% of the time I take a handful of great songs away from them but never think twice about spinning the entire album. Idk, too much of a good thing isn't usually good. Dude shoulda went the route of King Gizzard

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2021


3775 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ooo, nice. Thought the last album was just pretty good, but he's incredibly talented, potential on potential. Will read and listen soon.

Sowing
Moderator
August 28th 2021


39325 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Totally get the 2 hour argument. For whatever reason, from The Seer to The Color Spectrum to IRA, it doesn't bother me though. I can see why it'd be an inconvenience, but to me a great piece of music is still a great piece of music. It might change how frequently I'm able to hear it entirely, but it doesn't negatively impact my assessment of the artist's work.



Here's a link to a condensed re-imagining that I just created, for you heathens ;-)

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/73hnCZSSOWYVhReZePooLr?si=30c462222d8c4063

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2021


14768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Alejandro is the man, bro what is with 2021 and insanely long albums

Brinner
August 28th 2021


82 Comments


Nice listen so far.

Sowing
Moderator
August 28th 2021


39325 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

God, the more I listen to this and his other two albums, the more I'm convinced this guy is a genius. A real/literal virtuoso. Pretty sure there's nothing he can't do.

Pikazilla
August 28th 2021


19133 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sowing, I forgive you

Sowing
Moderator
August 28th 2021


39325 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pika just skip the dance and get that 1.0-2.5 out there

We'll always have ABMTTS. That was our one moment. I'll never forget it.

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2021


14768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

diving in, this first song is somethin else

Pikazilla
August 28th 2021


19133 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

But Sowing I don't think this is a 1 or 2

KCmo
August 28th 2021


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This review is dead on - truly a masterpiece. No doubt he's a genius. When you come up with that many great songs, it should be close to 2 hours...the breathtaking ones here have to be Malibu, Movie Screens, Blesser, Felios, Beach House, Darkness..just so many. I went 15 songs without a skip - a new record. He is rescuing us from the crap music that's everywhere. What about the Darkness? Damn he is insanely talented. This should go down as one of the (few) great albums of our time



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