Imagine '80s band the Outfield riding a neon Lisa Frank dolphin while stunt jumping Magnum P.I.'s red Ferrari and you'll get a pretty concise idea of the sound Smallpools achieve on their 2015 full-length debut Lovetap!. Showcasing the talents of vocalist/keyboardist Sean Scanlon, guitarist Mike Kamerman, bassist Joe Intile, and drummer Beau Kuther, Los Angeles' Smallpools make a hyper-infectious blend of '80s-inspired arena rock and kinetic, synth-heavy dance pop. Their brightly produced songs fit nicely alongside similarly inclined works by bands like the 1975, Ra Ra Riot, and Passion Pit. With Scanlon's soaring tenor vocals set against the group's potent combination of shimmering Dayglo synths, crisp guitar licks, and propulsive dancefloor beats, cuts like "American Love," "Dreaming," and "Street Fight" are instant mixtape fodder. Elsewhere, tracks like the exuberant "Admission to Your Party" and the uber-catchy "Killer Whales," bring to mind something along the lines of Fun. covering Van Halen's "Jump." Along with their knack for coming up with a good hook, part of what sets Smallpools apart from other similarly inclined bands is their knack for quick scene setting and outlining a song's lyrical drama in a few quick sentences. On "Over and Over," Scanlon sings, "It was a company event/With a margarita tent/I said, "How's your week?"/ She said, "Man, I'm spent/And I could use a crazy night." Ultimately, on Lovetap!, it's as if Smallpools combined the singer/songwriter style of classic yacht rock with the 2000's emo pop urgency of Fall Out Boy and wrapped it all up in a tropical-themed early-'80s dance party. In other words, it's pretty darn delightful.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar