There is something of an enduring quality to the simple pop melodies, cruchy guitar sound and heartfelt break-up lyrics of Puddle Splasher. It gives them a kind of timelessness; they might just as easily have been plucked from the mid-nineties or early-noughties as from the present day.
‘Separate States’ is the debut effort from the New Jersey power trio and it makes for an eclectic, but highly enjoyable, mix of indie pop and grungy alternative rock with just a splash of emo. Sure, there’s a certain familiarity to their swirling melodies and grinding riffs, but they succeed in finding their own identity in what is a cool bunch of songs.
The first three tracks drift easily between a kind of lazy indie vibe and massive chords. There’s a raw feel to the guitars that adds an edge to ‘Summer Sigh’ and ‘Decent Thoughts’, while ‘Different Life’ rolls out the old loud-quiet-loud formula to good effect, taking me back to 1996.
Things then take a pop turn as they deliver a couple of bangers in ‘No Leaves’ and ‘I’m Hurting Me’, the latter boasting a particularly summer soaked vibe. ‘Healing Problems’ offers a similarly radio friendly groove, while ‘Good News’ is as good a slice of hard-edged indie pop as you are likely to get.
Nevertheless, they do have a penchant for an emotion-soaked tune, like ‘Not a Word’ which is dripping with massive guitar chords and a stirring chorus. ‘Dead in the Afternoon’, meanwhile, is a particularly raw and dark ballad that also nails it.
It may not be the most innovative record of the year, but there is plenty to like about Puddle Splasher’s debut; it offers up more and more with repeated listens and is well worth checking out.
‘Separate States’ by Puddle Splasher is out now on Animal Style Records.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)