Indiana-based shoegaze duo Stagnant Pools combines the guitar pickings and vocals of Bryan Enas with the rhythms of his brother Douglass. They released their debut in January of 2012 and they’re due to put out Geist, their sophomore record on 6/10 via Polyviny. The band’s name connotes a hazy scene, near motionless. The record’s title implies a phantom or spiritual figure. Geist certainly channels some kind of ghostly misery. You’ll hear a bit of Joy Division, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, with an undercurrent of emo. It’s a familiar dream that doesn’t always work – sometimes there’s too much going on to feel much and sometimes there’s just nothing to feel – but it’s great for any creative mind.
The opening “You Whir,” for example, has a loudness to it that doesn’t work with the emotional undertones. I want to know more about the “beautiful nothing” that Bryan speaks of (though it seems cliché), but it’s too difficult to concentrate. Often Bryan’s voice is too affected into a mellow mumble, to the point of slight absurdity. The words to a lot of the songs are also lacking in depth, though that is not necessarily wholly negative. When Bryan conveys hopelessness through “You can’t take it away / It’s never here to stay,” it’s clear: happiness is never there to stay. But, while the music may soothe the creative side of us, that kind of description, in such a dead voice is so unimaginative it’s almost boring. There’s really hardly any vocal variety throughout.
This kind of music is easy to daydream to – more than allowing your mind to wander, it encourages it to. The “fuzz,” as so many like to describe it, that the drums and guitar create combined with repetitive melodies creates a drowsy effect. That sleepy brain is ripe for the lazy feelings Stagnant Pools’ describes. The music, on the whole, does reflect the lyrics, in that it is cyclical to the point of losing my interest.
Tracks like “Filed Down” engage the listener at first by taking the deadened misery implied in the title and following through with the vocals and music. There is a strong sense of emptiness. But it’s hard to listen to something like that for more than a few minutes. There simply isn’t enough force to keep your attention.
Look out for Geist which will be released this June and check out “Intentions,” in the mean time: