11 June, 2014 in Music Reviews
The Hamburg post-punk trio Pool return with a single that pulsates, ricochets and clasps you in a sinous, funk-addled rhythm
ith debut single Harm having been the official anthem of the 2013 Berlin Festival, Hamburg trio Pool have much to live up to with What It Is. Opening with a ricocheting guitar line and pulsating post-punk bassline, their sound is infectious.
Like a cross between the dearly departed noise-pop duo Gauntlet Hair and seminal indie act Interpol, it both draws you in and pushes you away, grabbing you by the chest and shaking you like the flailing hero in an art-house Joy Division film. You’re happy, too, that it’s clasped you in its rhythm, one that betrays a funk undertone many a post-punk pretender has aspired to incorporate but failed to carry off.
Pool waste no time getting to the bridge, where it’s something of a surprise to find them incorporating the use of AutoTune. Made famous by Cher’s mammoth hit Believe, it’s a bold move. Sadly, it’s one also that doesn’t really work. It serves as an unwelcome distraction, ripping you from the groove that the trio had so expertly created in the song’s preceding 30 seconds and pursing the lips in exasperation. The trick is then repeated, a fine, effortlessly catchy verse marred by a failed adventure in technology. The closing segment pulls the track back up and leaves the band in credit, utilising their finely crafted guitar echo to draw proceedings to a more than agreeable close.
Lead singer David Stoltzenberg, has said the band “had a million versions of this song” and that “AutoTune on the vocal of the bridge gave the whole thing another more electric touch that we really liked”. It is ironic then that the moodier, industrial-tinged Sebastian Kreis remix does make the AutoTune work, making you wonder what it is the band were thinking when taking this as their final cut.
What It Is has some excellent moments that hint at a band rich in potential. Unfortunately some of their ideas take away from, rather than add to their sound.The trio should just take one idea as their focus and pool their resources into creating a style forged on the track’s opening brilliance. If they do so they might just become the hipster choice for their anthemic post-punk stylings.
Verdict: A strong song, but with one too many ideas thrown into the pot