Like a sponge soaking in SoCal rock, San Francisco’s Carpool Tunnel have debuted with a record that’s dreamy, lively, and oozes with a cool retro vibe. A newly signed band relatively young in their career, the album is aptly named ‘Bloom’, which feels appropriate given how fresh the music sounds.
Constantly upbeat, ‘Bloom’ is a record that radiates good times. A bubbly beat and rhyming lyrics lead tracks like ‘Impressions’ to put a smile on your face. Even in slower paced numbers like ‘Closer’, the 60s inspired guitar chords sound light and joyful.
The well written hooks throughout this album also go a long way to making each track feel distinctly memorable. ‘Dreaming Still’ is so very retro sounding that it’s nostalgic, as the guitar twangs and the backing vocal chants of “Hey” transport you into a past life day dream.
In a very bold move, ‘Forget My Name’ is oddly surreal as lead vocals flip from high pitched with a slightly mocking tone to shouting in an aggressive mode. Sounding like nothing else on the record, it surprisingly doesn’t feel out of place. In fact, it’s a welcome break to the chilled out vibe that also allows Carpool Tunnel to demonstrate something unique from their highly influenced style seen in the rest of the record.
It’s the slow melodic tracks that allow this album to breathe. ‘Learning To Listen’ opens up the record in a tranquil fashion that somewhat romanticises the Southern California setting of ‘Bloom’. This ode to the genre is only furthered in ‘Nostalgia’ which hides absolutely nothing with its title, as it lays out its grainy home movie brand of music.
Being a proudly SoCal band doesn’t limit Carpool Tunnel as they pinch and pull from many genres. Whilst some tracks like ‘Flora’ are unapologetically surfer rock, others like ‘I’ll Be Your Friend’ contain speedy and sharp guitar riffs that blend punk with indie to create an energetic and dance-y sound. ‘Tarot Cards’ is also worth a mention; a smooth and funky song that borrows from the blues, diving away from the upbeat style of the record but remaining in the romantic spectrum.
Balancing retro with accessibility is a difficult task, but Carpool Tunnel have done it with ‘Bloom’. This record feels light, cool and breezy, transporting you into a care-free world of fun in the sun, summertime romances, and fairground rides. The fast rhythmic guitars, rapid drum beats, and wavy vocals are bound to put a smile on your face.