Carpool Tunnel - Bloom | Album Review

Sun, surf and SoCal is a sound that many artists have tried to capture, some with more success than others. It’s a sound that resonates deep within much West Coast music, as the influence of record companies following the sunset during shift during the 70s and landing in the heart of Los Angeles. This is the sound that grooves and slinks throughout Carpool Tunnel’s full-length debut Bloom.

A lot like the optimism of these record executives and the naivety of taking the leap into the unknown of adulthood, Bloom is gleaming with well welcomed sun kissed warmth. The quartet brings a sensibility of old meets new, providing a balance of their influences of 60s and 70s riff laden rock and blues, injected with the fuzz of modern psychedelic surfer rock, capturing the sentiment and spirit of the state of California.

Signing with Pure Noise Records in December 2020, the band were quick to announce the upcoming release of their debut soon after signing to the new label. Filled with a new appetite Daniel Stauffer (drums), Bradley Kearsley (guitar), Ben Koppenjan (vocals/guitar) and Spencer Layne (bass) were eager to get the ball rolling. Having established their writing abilities already with a string of releases in the rearview mirror, it was time to finally release a collection of tracks already road tested.

There is a real sense of identity that is implored in the album, as can be expected from a debut from a group of musicians who met under similar circumstances as most romantic relationships start today; through an app. The band all met through Vampr - a similar mock up to tinder, but for musicians - and began recording instantaneously. Soon followed suit by embarking on a journey to spread their fuzz-infused, old timey classics, mashed with new age feel-good energy up and down the West Coast.

As is to be expected with an album basking in the gleaming beams of sunshine, there would be an element of light-hearted popiness. This is exactly what builds the fundamentals of track ‘Impressions’ an ebullient, road tripping, sound of the summer track, which flows between a bouncy melody, grooving bass line and uplifting lyrics. ‘Dreaming Still’ is a journey into what makes the quartet’s sound unique, clinging onto this new-age energy whilst resonating a heavily implied 60's and 70's twist, finally falling in on itself to create a balance of the two.

Whilst a large majority of the album relies on the intoxicating, effervescence of surf rock, there are a selected handful of tracks that provide an emotionally-rich tonality, alternating the experience track by track. Koppenjan’s vocal intro to ‘Forget My Name’ supported by the slinky bass line, provides a somber turn in the album. Still providing the groove they have throughout but with a few extras added on, displaying the emotion and passion similarly to a rare flowering plant, it reveals it’s beauty for a short period before receding. Only to rebloom with ’Nostalgia’ which transitions beautifully between the emotionally driven style, which is shadowed as it bursts into a danceably, uplifting chorus, embedded within is a soul clenching solo that seduces as much as it thrills, an element that this band have already perfected.

Overall this is an album filled with echoes and tributes to influential bands, as well as establishing their own uniqueness by unifying these styles, creating an ambitious sound that sets them out from most West Coast bands. This is an album that grows and develops with each listen, slowly entering your mind with the endless supply of catchy hooks you’ll hum all the way into the autumn months.

Score: 8/10

Bloom is released February 26th via Pure Noise Records.

Pre-order the record here.


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