For lovers of the energetically melancholic, the hauntingly beautiful, and the aggressively thoughtful, mole, the debut album from Toronto bedroom pop artist poolblood should be at the top of your list.
poolblood, also known as Maryam Said, has been sporadically releasing singles since 2019, but has only now brought their one-of-a-kind blend of punk, bedroom pop, and folk into its own LP. The album heavily features singer-songwriter-style numbers, with the focus being mainly on Said’s mish-mash of guitar styles and their stunning vocal delivery. And while aspects of mole will feel familiar, the project as a whole is elevated by surprising elements innovatively borrowed from genre sensations like Mitski, Clairo, and Fiona Apple.
With a runtime of just 26 minutes, mole feels like a surprisingly complete emotional journey, ranging from triumphant, driven anthems like “twinkie,” soulful, melancholic ballads like “shabby” and “wfy”, and heavy, gritty sonic collections like “beam.” Despite the huge variety of sounds and vibes on offer here, all of it comes together in a distinctly human way.
The experience of listening through poolblood’s debut album is akin to reading the very best and worst days of someone’s diary, compilation style. Frank lyrics are juxtaposed with vivid imagery, often in the same bar. Grounded acoustic guitar suddenly gives way to swelling horns or gained-out lead lines, turning songs on their head in an instant. Said’s beautiful singing voice is overtaken by hyper-modern, distorted vocals, evoking the inherent dark side in all of us.
As the artist says themselves, “[mole] is the underlying theme of our lives, the lives of those we love, and the lives of those we have lost by time and distance. […] We have, and always will be, the stories told within.”
Every aspect of mole is a stunning dichotomy—vulnerable, yet resilient. Elevated, but honest. Broken. Healing. For those in search of a short, but no less impactful musical odyssey, poolblood’s mole can’t be overlooked.