New Jersey outfit The Girl Pool consists, at the moment, of Christian Engel (vocals/synths) and Winston Whitlock (guitar/synths). The Girl Pool is your basic Depeche Mode/Clan of Xymox type depressive synthpop group, pretty generic in most respects. They seem to have the right combination of Underworld-style grubbiness and artistic pretentiousness to make it as a B-list dance band, and are reasonably good technically; if they spend some more time touring, they should be able to tighten up their act quite a bit. They do seem to suffer from a certain lack of centralized aesthetic, though.
Their eponymous album is pure swirly synthpop, and very bass-driven. This is unfortunate, as their bass player (Mike Stembridge) left shortly after the CD was released, so their next outing will likely be very different indeed. The songs on this release seem to be hymns to superficiality, which of course is very genre-appropriate.
Most of the songs here have sort of a pulsing lament tempo. Engel's got the opposite of the Ozzy syndrome; that is, he sings with a fake quasi-British accent. However, said accent's forced nasality sometimes gets in the way of clarity. We need some more liner notes, guys. Here's a look at the tracks.
Death Disco - Pretty much what it says; think funeral with a mirror ball. The hissing voice saying the title words is really irritating and breaks the flow of the song, but I suppose it could be construed as appropriate, if one wanted to be literal about it.
Paradise A.M. - Catchy, upbeat if just as swirly as the rest of them.
Electra - A quieter track than most of the rest of them. For some reason I find myself noticing that it's in the same key as the previous song. Electra is probably the least bass-dependent track on here; this might be a clue to future directions for these guys, unless they decide to give bass synths or sequencers a shot. It worked for Prince...
Godiva - Either those are drum programming errors I'm hearing or they're trying to do something rhythmically clever and failing. This track is long and not particularly interesting melodically. There's a pause near the end that could be mistaken for the end of the song, but isn't. I was hoping.
Technique - There are odd echo effects on the vocals, making it even tougher than usual to understand (apparently they're aware of this, and have provided liner notes). That said, Technique is probably the best track on here: stark, weird, spacy, and stylish.
Veil - The basic subdued depressive track. They seem to be trying for forlorn and wistful here, but it's just a little too bouncy to pull it off.
Space Angel - This one has more programming errors, but they're more noticeable than the ones in Godiva. Space Angel initially struck me as having sort of 50s feel, which I ignored until I noticed why; the verses have more or less the same melody as the song Duke of Earl. After I noticed that, it became really distracting and I couldn't concentrate on the song. Oh well.
All in all, The Girl Pool was enjoyable, but forgettable. The only tracks that stand out here are Paradise A.M., Electra and Technique.
If you're heavily into synthpop, give these folks a look.
Post: GIRL POOL CENTRAL SERVICES c/o Christian Engel, 660 Palisade Avenue, #402, Cliffside Park, NJ, 07010
Phone: (201) 313-0959