Humanistic – Abandoned Pools

Humanistic

Abandoned Pools

Extasy Records

2001

Abandoned Pools is sort of a guilty pleasure to me.  I mean that like this:  they’re kinda emo, but their music is so fantastically sing-along-able.  Humanistic is a really good album, and I’ve had it on repeat for awhile lately.  All this together leads to it being reviewed.  Oh and don’t go looking for new material from Abandoned Pools, Tommy Walter quit his record label and it’s basically a one-man project as of now (AP is basically a solo project, but Walter has other artists contribute).  He has promised a new album, but enough of that, let’s get into Humanistic.

We open with “The Remedy”, and are treated to a beautiful piano piece that is used throughout the track.  We also get a taste for how Walter sings, and I like it.  This track shows how he runs the gamut from low to high range notes, switching pitches mid-line consistently.  Overall, “The Remedy” is a good opener for the album, and sometimes when I listen, I don’t realize that this track is over and the next track has started…

And that next track is “Mercy Kiss”, having a soft, dreary intro before some low, distorted guitar chimes in.  Finally, the song starts, and then all drops as the spotlight is once again on the vocals.  This song is really kickass, and I love the guitar during the chorus, and the little parts of the riff during transitional parts of the verses.  Sorry for that run-on there, I just kinda was going stream of consciousness style.  Anyway, “Mercy Kiss” is a fairly definitive track for the album:  vocals that range all over, kickass guitar, drums that push the song forward, and it makes you want to sing along.

Continuing with the sing-along theme, next is “Start Over”.  Much more slowly paced and mellow than the first two tracks, but Walter proves he can make the transition and still have a beautiful song.  Yes I did just say that about a song.  “Start Over” also happens to make me play along with the drums on my thighs.  This track really gets me involved with the listening process, even sometimes while driving…

“Monster” is the next track, and it’s got a foreboding intro, with some cool guitar work coming in, and Walter doing some more awesome vocals.  The lyrics here are really cool also.  He makes a short commentary about how people who seem stupid are actually geniuses being ironic (If only that were the case), and when the chorus comes, it’s a helluva change.  Walter belts out the lyrics, and the music gets intense.  I really enjoy the chorus here, but the bridge really sells the song.  There’s a short guitar solo, and the intensity of the chorus returns until the end of the song.

“Blood” starts off with what sounds like a pan flute or some foreign tiny woodwind instrument you’d hear in a Led Zeppelin song.  But unlike Zep, no crazy guitar that can’t be reproduced (even by the man who originally played it!).  We’ve got a pretty mellow song, that kicks up a bit for the choruses.  Walter’s vocals really shine here.  Readers who paid attention will remember me saying how he shows his range in one line… the choruses here are the primary example.  The weird flute piece comes back at the end, a seemingly peaceful resolution.  “Blood” is a very nice track with a good flow from the previous track into the next.

Which brings us to “Suburban Muse”, which has a damn nice intro.  Tweeting birds, peaceful vocals, soft toned music, it’s a very nice intro to a track with a theme that continues through this track to the next.  When I’m listening to this song, it almost feels more like someone is telling me a story than a song.  The bridge has an interesting lyrical part, saying how being the best at being ordinary slowly kills you from the inside out.  Actually, the song is full of contrasting lyrics.  With one listen, it sounds like an upbeat, hopeful song.  However, with another, it may carry a hopeless, futile attitude.  Either way a good tune, with the birds returning to move us forward.

“Sunny Day” has intro vocals similar to “Suburban Muse” in that they’re meaningless sounds that are very pleasant to hear.  This track is very similar to its predecessor, actually.  It again feels like a conversation, or a story, instead of a song.  Also, it can have either a positive or negative tune depending on how you listen to it.  More beautiful vocal work from Walter, and some fantastic backing vocals from Angie Hart of Frente! really bring this track together.

“L.V.B.D.” is a track name that I consistently have to look up to make sure I’m getting it right.  Oh yeah and we’re back to kick-assery here.  Fucking killer riff, and Walter sings like he’s possessed, which really fits the heavy drums.  However, differing from other tracks on the album, the tune lightens up on the chorus.  It’s a different style, but it goes well with the song.  Oh and “L.V.B.D.” stands for ‘little virgin baby doll’, which is a lyric in the song.  Anyways, the guitar solo kicks ass, and the bridge references previous track “Mercy Kiss”.  A splendid work here, and a nice heavier break in this lighter part of the album.

“Ruin Your Life” is a track I’m not sure on.  I can’t really tell how I feel about it.  Sometimes, I listen and really enjoy the vocal work, with Hart returning for some nice backing vocals again.  Walter really has his signature sound here, changing pitch again, but I think the track is spoiled for me by “L.V.B.D.” in that the heaviness ruins this.  It’s a very peaceful track with a hauntingly altruistic lyrical theme, but I just can’t wait to get to the last two tracks of the album.

Unfortunately, this gets in the way.  “Never” is a track that I really do not like on this album.  It’s like Walter wanted to throw in a poppy, radio-friendly slow song.  In nearly all instances, I skip this track to get to the kick-assery contained in the next two tracks, but this time, I’ll explain why I don’t like it.  This is not the sound Abandoned Pools is supposed to have.  There’s other slow, peaceful songs on the album, but I can appreciate them for something.  “Never” just gets annoying and I do not like it.

That being said, my favorite part of the album begins now.  Not because I hate the album, and want it to be over, but because the last two tracks are so good.  “Seed” starts off like a dog in a cage, whimpering, trying to coerce you to let it out.  But then you let it out and it’s a fucking rabid motherfucker with nothing to lose.  “Seed” kicks ass, and Walter’s possessed sound comes back with his vocals.  Oh and the guitar work fucking rocks again, but the big star here is the drum work.  While not being complicated, it sure is heavy and is thrown out there to be the main force in the song.  “Seed” slows down at one point, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t get right back to what it does best, kicking ass, and not giving a shit about names.

So if you’re a normal reader of my reviews, you normally see my babble about ‘best song of the album’ and such.  You’ll also have noticed that this album has none of that.  That’s because the best song on this album is also the closer.  “Fluorescein” has a really dark sound to it at the start, but that’s nothing.  When you get to the chorus, Walter has such a dark tone to his vocals, then belts out the ‘may, don’t wake me’ at the end.  This track really does it for me on this album and gets my prestigious ‘Best Track on the Album’ Award©.  Seriously, this track needs to be listened to, so I’ll stop talking about it and let you get to it yourself.

So Humanistic, the first album of two from Abandoned Pools, and a damn fine musical work.  Outside of one track, every song on here is a delight to listen to.  In fact, the album has something for pretty much everyone (unless you like country music, in which case eat a sack of cocks (alt-country is ok) you asshat).  Tommy Walter really is a talent, and I hope the third AP album comes out soon.  Until then, Humanistic will be a regular album for me to listen to.

Official Site

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