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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Monday, March 30, 2015

Music Mondays: "Killer Whales" by Smallpools

I’ve been wanting to write more about music than I have been, and considering my best music of 2014 article (the pop version is here, the full list is still forthcoming) made me think about it several different ways. Specifically, I found it much, much easier to write about what I didn’t like than what I did. I want to work on that. So, I’m going to try and make a weekly feature where I write a little bit about a song that I’m listening to recently and why it specifically out of all the things I’m listening to piques my interest.

To start, I’ll be looking at “Killer Whales” by Smallpools. The song technically came out a few months ago, but I’ve been listening to it a lot again this week with the release of their debut album LOVETAP!

The song is probably at least somewhat emblematic of what my friends have sometimes called a “Theo song”. It’s synth-heavy indie pop, and takes all of three seconds to let you know that. I’m something of a sucker for well-placed sparkle synths like the one that runs through the background of the song. And of course, that opening synth line is great (and similar in tone to the one they use on “Dreaming”, which is also a great song).

All of it builds into a dramatic chorus that ends with a chorus of “ohs”, again, all coming off my checklist of things I love in songs. The lyrics seem to me to be about a rather neurotic person looking back at their concerns and attempts to find/save themself through a relationship. But I think the bridge is what ties it together, though, cutting it all down to about half as many layers instrumentally while the singer drops down an octave, all of which builds to the final realization “She was a concept/I was in love with”.

It feels really cheesy seeing that written down now, but I think everything about the song sells this as a grand realization. The singer jumps back up to his normal register as the song jumps back to its full force before going into the final choruses. It actually gives me chills, it just makes for such a solid payoff to the rest of the song.

I’m going to be honest, I have no idea how long a review of an individual song should be, but I’m at over a word per second of song, and that seems like as good a place as any to stop for an inaugural exercise. The overall point, though, is that “Killer Whales” is about four minutes of perfect synthpop, and something to be enjoyed.

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