Music Reviews
Temporary Room

Stagnant Pools Temporary Room

(Polyvinyl) Rating - 6/10

The busiest music scenes collectively thrive over a set of ground rules, operating with a likeness and kinship of very exacting sound constructs. But as it usually happens, one or two acts will actually be given the ticket that will get them out, a winning prize for excelling over your peers. If that’s challenging enough, imagine standing out if you come from a place that’s in any way associated with any significant musical movement. We give so much attention to the usual cities that we lose perspective that art exists everywhere. So it’s quite refreshing to see that Indiana duo Stagnant Pools adhere to a brand of noise pop that is far removed from their expected Midwestern upbringing.

Such is the distinction that a sudden glimpse may intuit that Stagnant Pools were formed in the basement of an old rustic building in Salford. The squalling,  opener that opens their debut release, Illusions, hammers away a feedback-drenched crunch that could be described as unnerving under the expected stylistic assumption that it is post-punk except that its four to the floor drum work strikes with a forward thrust. With a simple drum and guitar set-up, the Egan brothers aim for a massive, multiplexed sound that happens to generate a large amount of amplification.

Due to the limitations of playing as a duo, Stagnant Pools find themselves in that precarious situation where they can’t quite determine whether taking such a bare approach to song structure works to their benefit or to their disadvantage. That’s also because the members are unconcerned with presenting themselves as larger than life, which is nowadays almost looked upon as a prerequisite – either of them is a studio wunderkind with copious amounts of pedals or a growing young man that needs to vent out his frustrations with shout-out choruses. They’re just two young guys in their early twenties ripping through hazy blasts of subtle distortion in the most human way possible.

In fact, Stagnant Pools stand out by the virtue of their ordinary-ness. So much so that they treat monotony as an art form – Brain Enas’ affected drawl does give an added gravitas, adopting a solemn stance that ably matches with the luminescent glow that creeps through its suffocating enclosures. His artless vocal delivery is the main redeeming element of Temporary Rooms that provides a smidgen of character. But this particular attribute has been replicated countless times before, and once that pulsating euphoric feeling it holds throughout begins to wear off one’s inclined to suspect that the band is just trying a do-over of the same template. Just like that of an early eighties Factory release, Temporary Rooms has the same affinity of first releases by The Wake and Section 25 in that it struggles for relevance behind the shadow of its towering influences.

In essence, Stagnant Pools are strictly in the business of expelling droning bursts of fizzy noise alongside its rhythmically mechanized passages. Even if Temporary Rooms fades from one track to the next with a steady command, the evidence of this being an underdone first effort is in plain sight - it can even provoke bouts of frustration, especially when the band will occasionally start with a powerful first charge, only to reiterate it with the same chugging backbeat instead of taking the chance. At present, their light out-of-the-box exploits feel more like comfort food, but there’s no denying that once they develop their experimental ways they’ll move out of stagnancy.