Pool Kids
Pool Kids


5.0
classic

Review

by Brendan Schroer CONTRIBUTOR (224 Reviews)
July 28th, 2022 | 53 replies


Release Date: 07/22/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lost in the sound of resignation

I don't think I have the energy
To make it out of my bed today
It's not even a bed
I've been sleeping on
An air mattress with a hole
For almost three months


These lyrics pretty much tell you all you need to know about Pool Kids. In this gloriously twisted experience we call life, there come certain points at which you just feel done. It’s the feeling that, no matter how hard you fight and push, resignation seems like the best course of (in)action. I think even the most motivated of individuals have gone through this sense of mental defeat at least once in their lives, and the effect can be truly crushing on one’s health and relationships. For better or worse, I don’t think I’ve ever heard an account of resignation as brutal or overwhelming as Pool Kids’ self-titled sophomore record; the album takes a deep dive into themes of depression and anxiety, turning painful ordeals into relatable vignettes. Yet – due to frontwoman Christine Goodwyne’s frank, matter-of-fact delivery – nothing on the record descends into mawkish melodrama or self-parody; everything comes off as devastatingly real and sincere.

What’s more is that there’s no time to get acclimated to it all; opener “Conscious Uncoupling” comes out swinging, throwing the listener into the middle of a nasty love/hate relationship with a significant other. Much like the album itself, this is a song built on contradictions: the distorted riffs give the track a punchy feel, and yet are always undercut by the melancholy of the wistful melodies. Goodwyne clearly holds a level of contempt for the person she’s addressing, and yet seems to hold back vocally whenever she tries to really let loose with her thoughts - almost as if she’s hiding some of her true feelings. This song is a perfect thesis for what Pool Kids is aiming for: the push and pull of “should I start committing?” vs. “why even try?”. But, as outlined in later songs such as the nostalgic lamentations of “Further” or the deep-seated insecurities that define “Arm’s Length”, our narrator’s inner turmoil and disillusionment clearly eats away at her. And sure enough, this even gives the record’s more humorous moments an undercurrent of bitterness. The chorus of “I Hope You”, for instance, has Goodwyne uttering the most deadpan laughs I’ve ever heard in a song, almost as if she’s sarcastically reciting a mantra.

However, as compelling as Goodwyne’s contributions are, that doesn’t mean that the other members don’t hold their own. Musically, Pool Kids is an exceptionally well-realized blend of indie rock, math rock, and indie pop, with shades of post-hardcore; this combination leads to a sound that provides just the right balance of angst, despondence, and glimmers of hope. The guitar parts of Goodwyne and Andrew Anaya compliment each other perfectly to fit the subject matter and atmosphere of each song, such as the dreamy melodies that accompany the lush vocal harmonies on “Comes in Waves”, or the noodly rapid-fire motif that makes “That’s Physics, Baby” so instantly likable. And while Nicolette Alvarez delivers pretty standard bass lines for this style of music, drummer Caden Clinton is the member who contributes the most to the album’s math rock tag. Off-kilter rhythms and intricate patterns appear all over this record, ensuring that there’s always something interesting going on; “Conscious Uncoupling” and “Comes in Waves” are two of the best examples of him in action.

But it’s Goodwyne who shines the brightest on Pool Kids, and it really comes down to her conviction when treading such complex emotional territory. She walks a fine line between apathy and genuine passion, and with each passing song, you’re never quite sure of what mood she’ll convey next; as I said before, many of these songs are built on contradictions. The instrumentation of “Arm’s Length” is aggressive and upbeat, yet the lyrics portray a person who simply needs to air out all of her grievances and resulting lack of motivation. This makes Goodwyne’s higher register even more agonizing to listen to, because it sounds as though she’s screaming straight into the void; meanwhile, everything she laments about - a shitty job, past trauma, self-loathing - just… stays there, living in her head rent-free. Things finally come to a head on album closer “Pathetic”, on which our narrator finally lets her partner go, certain that he will keep a piece of her with him; however, given her final question, “what can we make of this?”, there seems to be a perpetual sense of uncertainty looming over her future. Thus, the story ends where it began.

More than anything, Pool Kids reminds me of how fleeting time is. For those of us who have introverted personalities and problems with anxiety, listening to this album is like looking into a fucking mirror. You start to ask things like, “wait, I’M the person who woke up at 2pm today… why couldn’t I have started the day earlier?” and “why the hell am I doubting this relationship so much? Wasn’t I the one who asked them out in the first place?”; soon enough, you’ll find yourself wondering where all those lost years went. As it turns out, they were right under your nose and you decided to ignore them entirely. Pool Kids is a devastatingly effective indie rock record that takes a frank look at the demons eating us from the inside, as well as why we shouldn’t always back out of what we’ve already committed to. Don’t immediately resort to resignation.



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user ratings (82)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2022


16143 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

So... uh yeah, I wrote a goddamn novel with this one, and a lot of it doesn't even talk about the music itself. But this is 100% the record I needed at this juncture in my life. So, from the bottom of my heart: thank you Pool Kids



Also, I already said this in the casual convo thread, but this is the first 5/5 review I've given for a new album since 2016 with Terminal Redux, so... yeah

Sowing
Moderator
July 28th 2022


41803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Intriguing...gotta add this to my list of stuff to check.



Great review

Slex
July 28th 2022


14553 Comments


Hell yeah bud, aweaome review!!
Album is phenomenal

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2022


4072 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Really nice review!



This didn't blow me away on first listen a few days ago, but will be coming back to it.

pizzamachine
July 28th 2022


17981 Comments


This sounds…. emotional

Nice descriptions ⬆️

anat
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2022


4908 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is pretty cool, some nice spins on the genre

SlothcoreSam
July 28th 2022


4330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pool Kids 4 Cool Kids!

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2022


27451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is awesome. if I keep getting it stuck in my head a score bump might be in order

RadioNew03
July 28th 2022


115 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love when an album comes out of nowhere and blows me away !!!

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2022


16937 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gotta check this

Cormano
July 28th 2022


3610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

was expecting you'd dive more in the sound since this is like a massive departure from their mathy begginings



fantastic album, Christine is one of the best performers I've ever seen, girl's got pipes and shreds like a maniac

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2022


58971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How did I not know about this?

Slex
July 28th 2022


14553 Comments


Tbf Cormano, I am pretty certain this is, and is going to be, the majority of people's first time hearing the band

Sowing
Moderator
July 28th 2022


41803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is very nice. I love the atmosphere and especially the guitars throughout, but I'm still working out the vocals. I'm not sure why but they feel like an amalgamation of every 2010s indie-pop singer I've ever heard, but I'm not sure if her style is actually generic or if I'm just projecting because I'm burnt out. If I come around, this could easily leap to a 4.5 or something.

Cormano
July 28th 2022


3610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@slex yeah you're prob right, surprised they aren't bigger considering how much Hayley Williams herself championed them but I get the feeling this will be the record that does it

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2022


58971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Swallow riffs

Slex
July 28th 2022


14553 Comments


Yeah I 100% hope this is a breakout, it deserves to be!!

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2022


16937 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Listening now

anat
Contributing Reviewer
July 28th 2022


4908 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

swallow is my fave track yes indeedy

Nbehre11
July 28th 2022


258 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad this got a review, so good!



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