REVIEW: Stagnant Pools - Temporary Room

If there is a mantra to be followed on Temporary Room, the debut album from Stagnant Pools, it is to maintain consistency. Not only is that statement a lyric from the song “Consistency”; it could also be the band’s mission statement, as it is the key to making this particular album work.

Stagnant Pools are a duo, the brothers Enas. At ages 21 and 22 respectively, Bryan and Doug excel at making the sound “gray” on the musical color palette. Room, recorded in just a day, is stacked with layers of guitars droning on for miles. And behind those bricks lay the mortar, a bombastic drumbeat that hammers that firmly molds the songs together. Like a concrete mixture, the songs in this Room are thick, sludgy, and even jarring at times with their monotonous tones. One may argue that since it was recorded all in a single session, maybe the songs kind of rub off on one another, playing together a bit homogeneously. One might also disagree: Sure, songs like “Solitude,” and the title track “Temporary Room” – full of guitar work that matches early Sonic Youth - meet at a point where you don’t know where one ends and the other begins… But it works. It’s all about consistency, remember? The songs bleed well together and, because of that, they blend well together.

There are moments that nod to the sounds of krautrock or motorik, but there are also moments that shine toward their modern contemporaries. As a duo of just guitar and drums, they are easily comparable to Japandroids, but maybe a Japandroids from the wrong side of the tracks, where you find Ian Curtis as the frontman. And though Bryan’s vocals make for an easy comparison to the late singer’s, at times they can come up lacking. The melodies, while hummable, could use something else in the background, maybe little flourishes of a higher octave, or perhaps the in-between notes you might find yourself humming when listening to the 4/4 stomp of “Jumpsuit” or the barn-burning single, “Dead Sailor.”

Nothing before it stands out more than the album-ending “Waveland." With its crunchy opening lead, reminiscent of Cloud Nothings “No Sentiment,” announcing the end of Room’s temporary exhibition, the vocals echo against guitars crashing down on our speakers. And as the song hits its final moments, you have to think of the day they made this. The heavy beats begin to unhinge in a sea of delay, giving way to drum fills that sound as if full collapse is imminent. It also makes you wonder whether or not they recorded the album in sequence, and if maybe drummer Doug Enas is just out of gas after 39 minutes of intense playing. And if he and brother Bryan are tuckered out, then that’s fine by me; I’ll be sure to keep their efforts warranted by blasting this record until my ears are bleeding liquid cement.