Abandoned Pools - Armed to the Teeth (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Abandoned Pools

Armed to the Teeth (2005)


Tommy Walter needs some Vicks Vaporub, and he needs it fast. I don't think I've ever heard a singer so nasally congested in my life. Well, alright, maybe Tom Delonge or Jordan Pudnik are pretty high up there as well, but this guy's got some serious clout in the hierarchy of sinus challenged singers.

This really becomes a problem because of the kind of music that Abandoned Pools play. It's not token pop-punk, but instead, long, drawn out pop-rock. To give a general idea as to just how drawn out the songs actually are, the twelve-song album isn't far away from an hour in length. That's simply too long to hope to retain somebody's attention with this sort of music, especially if the vocalist is as much of a hindrance as he is.

In reality, a lot of these tunes, monotonous as they do become, could be pretty solid with an accomplished singer. Songs like these need somebody who can really draw out the long notes in the chorus, and really make it sound gorgeous and inviting. The vocals are written to be soaring in many spots, but what ends up happening is that they have trouble making it off the ground. This is especially problematic given the real lack of presence that the instrumentation has. As with the vocals, it's spotty, and can really be enjoyable, but when it fails, it fails hard. "Rabble" showcases a band with some dreamy melodies and catchy hooks. The vocals defy their own sound here, to be really enjoyable, with the tight underlying rhythm propelling the track along.

As hard as the band tries on Armed to the Teeth, they just have trouble replicating that kind of song. When you have specific limitations as a band, it's imperative to work with them, instead of trying to ignore them altogether as they often do. "Hunting" relies on solely the vocals for much of the duration, with the instrumentation being barely audible, but the singer simply cannot hold the weight of the entire band on his back. Being decent isn't enough to make good songs out of forgettable structures. And as much as importance is placed in those structures, execution fails the band as well; there's just no way that one can be expected to be engaged by their tiresome musings for as long as they require.

Plain and simple, the band tries too many tricks with too little talent. It's blunt, but it's true. The whole epic pop-rock sound isn't their bag, and the quicker they come to that realization, the better off they'll be.