“Maintain Consistency,” implored the guitarist and vocalist Bryan Enas on Temporary Room, the 2012 album he recorded with his brother, drummer Doug Enas. Stagnant Pool’s debut was a highly promising affair, a richly textured yet obdurately minimalist testimony to pain sung through pursed lips. Ironically, though, while the Indiana duo’s album was graced with some gloriously heavy-hearted guitar sounds and absently aching vocal melodies, “Consistency” ended up being a solitary highlight in an ultimately indistinct and slightly dull offering.
Stagnant Pool’s new album, Geist, finally fulfils that earlier promise. The drumming here is a revelation, a lot more attuned, expressive and resonant. The guitar sound has grown and evolved, buzzing through a wide range of beautiful overdrives and distortions and doing wonders with delay and looping effects. The song writing is more nuanced and better wrought. Exploring a similar emotional and tonal territory to its predecessor, this follow-up manages to turn single-mindedness into cohesiveness and the affectless into the affecting.
The dense layers of drums and guitars paint an opaque and torpid watery landscape in a dark greenish-blue colour. The lack of bass lends this monumental, seagoing sound a strange ghostly quality. Geist sounds like Joy Division with Sonic Youth guitars, Interpol through reinforced concrete, Placebo without the Cure – a filed-down tone poem run through a whirring coding machine that leaves a cold and metallic taste in your mouth.