Ghost Town Road (East)

There’s a magic feeling when a band you’ve been following for some time puts all the pieces together and delivers an incredible work of art. Smallpools have done just that on Ghost Town Road (East), an electric-charged EP that encapsulates everything that made me fall in love with this band’s style in the first place. This three-piece pop rock band makes all the right moves on this record that has a very 80’s new wave feel to it, while still maintaining a modern flair to it to ensure it connects with new audiences.

Ghost Town Road (East) launches off on the right foot with “Swayze,” that pays homage to 80’s films like Dirty Dancing and others, while exploring the depths of the band’s dynamic sound. Lead singer, Sean Scanlon swoons on the chorus, “I kinda feel like I’m crazy / Cause life moves fast but I’m still stuck in a daydream / Like an old montage of slow-mo shots, hey baby / I’m gonna hold you down and lift you up like Swayze / You spin me round and round I kinda feel like I’m crazy,” over some colorful synths and shimmering guitars. The combination of the intricate riffing by Mike Kamerman, paired with the soothing vocals of Scanlon, make for a memorable opening statement and great single.

Other songs like the first track to be released from this era of Smallpools, called “Night Shift,” find the band tinkering with their already established sound with some great beats (courtesy of drummer Beau Kuther) and a song about the boredom that comes with the late, sleepless nights. Scanlon explains on the chorus, “I’ve been working on the night shift, night shift / Feeling like a sidekick to myself / Feet up on the desk lonely as it gets / And I know no one will find me / Working on the night shift, night shift / Tick-tock goes the clock on my wrist / Watching re-runs, 21 Jump Street / And I wonder if these nights will ever end.” The shimmering synths mesh well with the content brought forth in the lyrics, and bring more context to the direction Smallpools were going for here.

The second single, “Fake A Happy Face” tackles worthwhile topics of mental health and “faking it” to make sure no one else worries about you. It’s a relatable topic for many, and the band does a nice job of describing this feeling in a tasteful manner. The mid-tempo song breaks up some of the speedy pacing, while “Motorbike (Wild Ones)” is a gradual burner that picks up momentum as it accelerates towards the hook. The EP ends with “Caller ID,” that does a great job of closing out the latest chapter of Smallpools artistic discovery, and makes the audience clamoring for more of this sound if/when the band releases the next part of Ghost Town Road. Music this colorful is easy to connect with, and I applaud Smallpools for going in this exciting direction.