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Stagnant Pools: Geist

Stagnant Pools Geist album review

Stagnant Pools — Geist

Release date(s): June 10
Our Rating: 3.5/5
Spec Recs: “Whir,” “Ever So,” “Decoder”
In one word: Moody

Stagnant Pools is at it again with its sophomore release, Geist. Brothers Bryan and Douglass Enas have expanded their sound in their latest effort, and have shown that perhaps Indiana is good for more than corn.

While Geist is a solid tribute to shoegaze, it does tend to blur into a gloomy cloud of noise. (And maybe that’s what the duo was trying to create — after all, they recorded the album in a winter of subzero temperatures.) The trick with shoegaze and dream pop, however, is to create a unique interpretation of the genre. Otherwise, it’s in danger of becoming more of the same. If you want something sludgy, or with significant variety, then I would look elsewhere. But if heavy Joy Division vibes and general angst are your thing, Stagnant Pools has got you covered.

“You Whir” begins the album in a mood-setting manner. Heavily distorted guitar and minor notes blur together, as Bryan’s deep, eerie vocals resonate. Drums crash over waves of guitar, and you know what you’re in for. By the second track of the album, “To Begin,” the Joy Division influence is impossible to miss. While the music remains upbeat, Bryan’s voice is sleepy and the lyrics fade in and out like clouds passing over the sun. He sounds like Ian Curtis in the number, but has curated more of Morrissey’s sing-song style.

Listen to a few more songs, and you’ll easily understand where the album is going. Geist is upbeat, and the droning guitars sound oddly positive in the midst of the despondency. Contemplations of impermanence abound on the brooding “Intentions,” while “Filed Down” is more mellow.

The real stars of the second half of the album are “Ever So” and “Decoder.” The former begins with what sounds like warrior drums, which lead to a more delicate, trance-inducing experience. It’s a realistically shy declaration of love and relief in finding that one special soul mate. Bryan croons, “You’re so unlike anyone else / I’m so fed up parading myself.” On the other hand, if you like the louder sounds of Deafheaven, you will certainly enjoy “Decoder.” The track features a number of build ups, followed by sneaky pauses and jam-worthy breakdowns. A relationship is ending, the brothers are being left behind, yet for some reason this song is peaceful…

All in all, this album is a good fit for the upcoming monsoon days. Put it on when you’ve had a bad day and want to be alone. Maybe Stagnant Pools’ case of the mopes is the cure to get out of your latest funk.

Stagnant Pools will perform on Aug. 9 at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Tickets, $13-$15, are available online through Ticketfly.

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