There is something wise and wistful about indie pop group Ancient Pools. The band may first appear mousey, but once it opens up, it becomes moving.
Ancient Pools warmed Missoula hearts with their intimate show at Ten Spoon Winery last summer. The set was full of thoughtful, calming tunes. Hooked, I searched for their music online, perfect for the overcast day I was having. To my dismay, all that was available was a single, “There No More.”
A year later, they have finally filled in the blanks, releasing their debut album, “Cosine.” You can hear the year’s time in the intention and attention to detail. “Cosine” wanders through the enchanting Northwest mist to escape the mind.
Ancient Pools is an Olympia, Washington folk-rocker superduo evoking stable sensitivity. Lead singer Anna Jeter is also the bassist and keyboardist in 100 Watt Horse, and her counterpart, Kevin Christopher, is the bassist for Oh, Rose. They found each other in Olympia and started making music. They’ve been touring and making music together in Portland, Oregon ever since.
Their folk sensibility lends itself to simple but smart dream-pop. “Cosine” is melodic and downtempo. It feels a bit like a purgatory for lost souls, capturing the physical sensations of the Pacific Northwest environment, full of forest and mist and skies heavy with rain. The landscape of their sound creates a visceral emotional response.
In “Lake Isabella,” Jeter begins with the lyrics, “I want to feel the wind hit, from the window wide open.” “Ocean for Ocean” is a watery abyss, with soft lo-fi vocals. The synth in “Quarry” lulls you into a melancholic daze. “Open yourself to the sun when it opens up to you,” Jeter sings.
The songs are short and sweet, and their simplicity is soothing. “Coffee” starts with a peaceful, meditative drone as chimes wake the song and seem to greet the day. “Good morning, my friend, how are you feeling?” Jeter sings. “It’s good to see you, it's good to be here in this small world making coffee and moving on.” The song reconciles with past frustrations by waking up on the right side of bed with a clear head.
The album’s mood is nostalgic, with an expansive dreaminess that remains present throughout. “Sing to the Bears” summarizes it all, singing, “Sing to the bears, sing to the mountains, so they know you’re near. In the Northwest winds I hear laughter, oh I know they’re here.”
The album has a mellow approach, with steady beats, solemn synth and cooing vocals. Jeter and Christopher are patient in processing emotions, and you can feel the time and effort they spent creating each track. The themes reflect their process as they navigate how to speak their minds earnestly. They search for answers, then make conscious decisions to move on. “Cosine” both loses touch and gets back in touch, finding its way with harmonious vocals and misty synth.
“Cosine” can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp.