Toronto based Maryam Said first appeared under her poolblood moniker four years ago, releasing a handful of interesting singles like the introspective ‘I’m Sorry’ and the harder-edged ‘Dreamer’ which recalled the likes of Courtney Barnett and Juliana Hatfield.
For her debut album mole, Said has taken the decision to create a wholly new body of work, resisting the temptation to revisit those early singles. Beginning in a lo-fi vein with the dreamy soundscape of ‘<3>the record takes off with the remarkable ‘wfy’, the vocals showing Said’s vulnerability with a track that gently builds and builds to encompass brass and strings. It’s almost as if everything is not quite in tune, but the elements fit together so spectacularly, to have auto tuned would have been criminal. It sounds so real, so intimate and honest.
‘shabby’ (capital letters don’t feature hugely on the record and the italics are all my own work) wouldn’t sound out of place on an album by The Pastels, I can almost hear Stephen’s voice in my mind’s eye. ‘twinkie’ was released digitally ahead of the album, last Summer, and is an utterly wonderful, joyous track that has me wondering how I shamefully missed it at the time.
There’s an undeniable charm across the album, and a lot of personal, hard-hitting lyrics, albeit delivered with a real lightness of touch. On ‘null’, Said heartbreakingly sings “We sat by a window / And I called out your name / In defense I knew you were / Just an apparition”.
‘beam’ is a bit like one of those dreamlike instrumentals that you might find on a My Bloody Valentine E.P. while ‘sorry’ is a self-explanatory soul-baring exercise with the most delicate accompaniment. There are a host of guest appearances across the album, including co-producers Shamir Bailey and Louie Short as well as Christian Lee Hutson and Dorothea Paas, and the group together have created something really special.
By the time the closer ‘my little room’ drifts over the horizon, the temptation is just to hit ‘play’ and start the whole thing again. This is a wonderful album, not a second wasted and not a second too long. If there’s any justice out there, poolblood will make quite a splash indeed.
mole is out now on Next Door Records.