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APRIL 16TH, 2023

The opening 30 seconds of Pool Kids’ self-titled second album might trick you with soft synth pads, but then the guitar comes in with a crunch, and Christine Goodwyne delivers delicate angsty vocal punches like a quit-messing-with-me Tanya Donnelly or a Hey Babe era Juliana Hatfield. Guitar hooks, pop-rock polish, and heart-on-sleeve lyrics lay down a bed of bliss for what is a damn good record. 

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On “That’s Physics Baby”, we’re two tracks in and the title matches the math rock opening with motorik ticking of drum sticks and a quick rhythmic guitar line. Goodwyne sings “Clockwork motor you wind me up again” and as a listener, I’m wound up for the spinning minutes to follow. From the beginning, Goodwyne is “Telling what I, telling you what I need.” 

And what she needs is to parse out the ups and downs, ins and outs, subtle hurts, deliberate stabs, emotional abuse, narcissistic demands, and letting go of bad relationships. In “Talk Too Much”, Goodwyne “can’t hear [her] thoughts over your performative opinions.” But she’s “Learning how to ignore you / And people like you.” However, she admits her own faults in the song “Comes In Waves” with lines like “can’t sleep without a fight”. But in the very next track, “I Hope You’re Right”, she cries “You want to start a fight.” Hey, relationships are hard, right?

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My first listen of this album was on a JBL bluetooth speaker sitting in my knockoff Eames chair. The 2nd was in my car. The 3rd was with earbuds at the gym. The 4th and 5th was during a long half-marathon training run. The 6th was writing this wee review. This album is solid, front to back. It’s loud enough to play at high volume. It’s intricate enough to indulge with headphones. At one point Goodwyne sings “I don’t think I wanna waste my day / Replaying all my past mistakes.” You, on the other hand, will want to waste your day replaying this excellent record.

- Trent Ryan Smith

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