If someone catches you dancing alone, just tell them you’ve got Smallpools playing on your headphones; they’ll understand.
I love this album.
But that’s probably not enough of a review, is it? OK, how about this: On Lovetap!, Smallpools’ long-awaited debut full-length, the band displays frivolity, earnestness, danceability, soaring vocals, and homage to the ‘80s.
Frivolity! The songs are catchy, demanding movement and sing-alongs. My personal favorites are “American Love” and “What’s That Picture Of?” but, truly, there’s not a bad song here. Not even slightly. That’s hard to say about most albums. “Street Fight” is pretty awesome, too, with the narrator acting offering his protection: “Caught in a street fight/ you need a lifeline/ go on and use me/ I’ll be your Bruce Lee.”
Earnestness! There’s a bit of philosophy in “Dyin’ to Live,” a touch of psychology in “Killer Whales,” and an analysis of character in “Mason Jar.” In truth, Smallpools’ lyrics are surprisingly intelligent, something that isn’t initially apparent because of how friggin’ fun the songs are. “Submarine” is chill and ethereal, a glimpse of the band’s subtlety and instrumental prowess.
Danceability! You can’t just sit there. Really, you can’t. If someone catches you dancing alone, just tell them you’ve got Smallpools playing on your headphones; they’ll understand. 2013 single “Dreaming” will bring the sun to the cloudiest day, while the shout-along refrain to “Karaoke” will have you wanting to do just that. The title track is soaring and wondrous, with catchy guitar licks, an upbeat tone, and gorgeous vocals. But then, that could describe pretty much the whole album.
Soaring vocals! The “oh-oh”s of “Admission” and “Mason Jar” The “Don’t you leave me alone/ don’t you let go”s of “No Story Time.” The entirety of “Over and Over.” The group refrain of “What’s That a Picture Of?” The sheer addictiveness that permeates “Dreaming.”
Homage! “Dreaming” definitely has that 1980s pop vibe; one listen and you’ll be singing it for days—yes, it’s that catchy. With ruby-throated singer Sean Scanlon revealing, “We’re only trying just to have some fun/ we’re only trying just to find that steady love,” “Dyin’ to Live” has that racing urgency of classic Rick Springfield, and let’s not forget the touch of Calypso on disc closer “9 to 5.”
It was a long wait between 2013’s self-titled EP and 2015’s full-length, but, the end result was well worth it. Lovetap! is 14 luscious, tasty, hyper-engaging tracks ripe for playing on “repeat” all summer long. A | Laura Hamlett
Even better! Smallpools is currently on a nearly two-month-long U.S. tour. Me, I’m counting the days until May 16…
04.21 | Exit/In, Nashville
04.23 | Terminal West, Atlanta
04.24 |Haw River Ballroom, Saxapahaw NC
04.25 | U Street Music Hall, Washington DC
04.27 | Altar Bar, Pittsburgh
04.28 | Union Transfer Philadelphia
04.30 | Newport Music Hall, Columbus OH,
05.01 | Xavier University, Cincinnati
05.03 | Princeton University, Princeton NJ
05.05 | Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland
05.06 | St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit
05.08 | Rock in Rio Festival, Las Vegas
05.09 | Middle East, Cambridge
05.10 | Bowery Ballroom, New York
05.11 | Bowery Ballroom, New York
05.13 | Deluxe, Indianapolis
05.14 | Triple Rock, Minneapolis
05.15 | The Record, Bar Kansas City
05.16 | Summit Music Hall, Denver
05.18 | Club Sound, Salt Lake City
05.20 | Wonder Ballroom, Portland OR
05.22 | Electric Owl, Vancouver BC
05.23 | The Crocodile, Seattle
05.25 | The Independent, San Francisco
05.28 | The Observatory, Santa Ana CA
05.29 | El Rey, Los Angeles