Abandoned Pools – Armed To The Teeth / 2005 Universal / 12 Tracks / http://www.abandonedpools.com / http://www.universal.com / Reviewed 22 September 2005
Abandoned Pools start out their “Armed To The Teeth” with Tommy’s vocals acquiring a Placebo-like sound, a style which is only intensified when the instrumentation washes over listeners like a wave. The first track is euphonic, but does not have the same radio-friendly style that really allowed the band to sell over 100,000 copies of their last album. Perhaps what really endears listeners to Abandoned Pools are the tremendous shifts in the band’s sound, as they incorporate specific genres and styles depending on the goals they wish to accomplish with their tracks.
Thus, something like “Waiting To Panic” has the insistent yet emotive guitar lines that exemplified emo music in the mid to late nineties, while the title track allows Tommy’s vocals to really dominate. The Proteus-like nature of Tommy’s vocals really comes to light by the time that “Armed To The Teeth” spins into its second half; “Sooner or Later” has a vocal shift into a slightly more nasal, Marc Schultz-like style. This shift works out well for the band, as the smoothed-out bass line and driving guitar work present on the track provide the yin to Tommy’s yang. The band really gets into a groove during “Sailing Seas”, a development which will surely titillate prior fans (a radio-friendly sound) and serious music aficionados (the skill in which the band is able to practically start everything and start up in the blink of an eye is beyond impressive).
The move back toward the nineties/Placebo sound for the track “Renegade” has rough parts in it, but the chaotic guitars and willy-nilly drums are enough to push the track into high gear. The only problem that comes to bear during “Armed To The Teeth” is that there seems to be a little too much in the way of lead-up before the ultimate pay-off. A track like “Maybe Then Someday” has some of the most heartbreaking lyrics (which are only intensified by the strings present), but the amount of lead-up that the track has before getting into this meat is absurd. The track is well under four minutes (3:46), but this instant classic would even be more impressive if the radio edit lopped off some of the opening. Overall, “Armed To The Teeth” is a solid album, even if the band does have off moments throughout its’ runtime. However, the presence of the final two tracks on the disc may be enough of a saving grace to merit picking the album up sound unheard.
Top Tracks: Maybe Then Someday, Goodbye Song