Following the major success of their debut single “Dreaming” from their self-titled EP in 2013, Exposure artist Smallpools released their first full-length album. They’ve toured with WBRU staples Walk the Moon and Neon Trees and even co-headlined a tour with Magic Man this past fall. After I saw Smallpools at the Boston stop of their fall tour (and unexpectedly met their drummer, Beau), I was left wondering how their on-stage exuberance would map onto a full-length album. Luckily, LOVETAP! captures that live energy and proves that their debut album was well worth the wait.
Full of infectious melodies and catchy lyrics, LOVETAP! is a fun fourteen-track venture into indie pop from vocalist Sean Scanlon, guitarist Mike Kamerman, bassist Joseph Intile, and drummer Beau Kuther. “American Love,” the album opener, begins with a delicate string section, but soon transforms into a fast-paced frenzy of sharp guitar riffs and pounding drumming. That transformation sets the tone for the album, which utilizes anthemic choruses and polished tempo changes to make every track suitable for dancing. The album’s lead single, “Karaoke,” a lighthearted track about your favorite bar pastime, is appropriately fit for sing-alongs. Smallpools even performed it last week on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
LOVETAP! is loaded with lighthearted lyrics like those in “Karaoke.” “Street Fight” is a synth-driven burst of energy, featuring entertaining lyrics that boast, “Just like the movies, I’ll be your Bruce Lee.” Smallpools have an impressive take on 80s-inspired synth work and guitar riffs with “Lovetap!” which establishes the band’s spot in the recent reemergence of 80s-esque music in alternative. This revival is easily heard in the 2014 releases from Smallpools’ former tour mates Walk the Moon and Magic Man. Fueled by pounding drumming, “What’s That a Picture Of?” adds a new level of intensity to the album. Powerful instrumentals elevate Scanlon’s emphatic singing of the chorus, which is dominated by an increasingly fiery repetition of the song’s title. “What’s That a Picture Of?” is bound to get stuck in your head and leave you with a reaction much like that of Walk the Moon guitarist Eli Maiman:
“9 to 5” is a quirky and intricate assortment of different instruments not showcased in the album’s other tracks. It adds another dimension to Smallpools and in doing so, provides the album with a refreshing change in pace. The experimental instrumentation in “9 to 5” results in an attention-grabbing song that sounds like it belongs on Vampire Weekend’s 2008 self-titled debut. LOVETAP! closes with “(Submarine),” a primarily instrumental song. It’s ethereal, ambitious, and uplifting – a fitting ending to a debut album from a band on the rise. Overall, LOVETAP! is a satisfying debut from Smallpools, full of upbeat tracks guaranteed to amplify your spring and summer.
Next month, Smallpools will start their LOVETAP! Tour. You can get tickets HERE for their show at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge on May 9.