March 8, 2013


America is struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Abandoned Pools may have narrowly averted a greater one.

The exclusive entity of mogul Tommy Walter flooded the global markets last August with Sublime Currency, a third full-length which acquired its IPO courtesy of Tooth & Nail Records. While nominal buzz possibly inflated expectations, Walter’s proven history of manufacturing remarkable products justified the fervor. But the follow-up to 2005’s Armed to the Teeth doesn’t meet the growth projections analysts had forecast. At the margins, it procures menial gains; in the aggregate, it’s subpar compared to Walter’s normally gold standard.

Despite Walter’s affinity for electronica on side projects Oliver the Penguin and Glacier Hiking, colossal guitar rock has consistently dominated the bottom line of Abandoned Pools’ balance sheets. His numerous bids to combine all three holdings create a ponzi scheme that generates zero interest. “9 Billion,” a failed merger of faux Matrix film rhythm loops and violin-tinged overdrive, should have been reserved to the demo vault. Save for its brief bridge, “Behemoth” weighs about as much as a sock full of pennies. The real villain of “Hype Is the Enemy” is the negative equity traded between a verse and chorus written on different sides of the ledger. A wealth of worthless synth-pop deposits bankrupt the title track and “Unrehearsed,” plunging the record’s first two quarters deeper into the red.

Walter turns on a dime and finally starts to cash in during the last six songs. “Legionnaire” and “Marigolds” recoup the bulk of the dividends, staging hostile takeovers behind Bryan Head’s shrewdly executed drumming and killer riffs capable of blasting holes through an armored car. “From Long Sleep” – an Oliver the Penguin derivative – is a substantial withdrawal from the loud din of those exchanges, its credit upgraded by stripped-down instrumentation and the soothing tones of guest vocalist Paris Carney. Walter endows “In Silence” with carefree earnestness, lending to its commercial viability. “Autopilot” and “In Shadows” don’t net large windfalls, but offer adequate solvency toward reducing the album’s deficits.

Though Sublime Currency slightly leveraged its P/E ratio, I’m staying bullish on Abandoned Pools. The potential rewards of Walter’s future transactions far supersede the unsuccessful risks he took here.

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