poolblood (a.k.a. Maryam Said) has released her new video for the track titled ‘wfy’ from her upcoming debut album ‘mole’, dropping January 13th.
I’ll start this with the obvious; this is a uniquely beautiful and mesmerizing song. poolblood definitely has a way about her, musically. wfy simply draws you in. it surrounds you with it’s unique blend of originality and angelic somber with a collection of instrumentation that cascades as they crescendo in such a way that it leaves you as curious about the artist as it becomes a part of you.
poolblood understands the tender urgency in crafting stories around deep and abiding intimacies, romantic and platonic, that run so far below the surface they become the root of everything that grows on the surface. Connective tissue between tender loved ones that is so urgent it requires constant, careful cultivation as days turn to weeks, then to months and long into the years. True intimacies take time, and with that time those connections can be lost, even with those we felt closest to.
These stories have come together to create the ethereal bedroom pop songs on poolblood’s debut LP mole, out January 13th 2023 on Next Door Records. “A lot of it was just me processing the grief of leaving and also trying to let time heal me and become a mother, a parent figure,” poolblood’s Maryam Said says, “I looked at time as a mother figure.”
The emotional vulnerability inherent in these stories stems from artists like Fiona Apple, whose landmark 1999 record When The Pawn… left an indelible impression on Said’s own approach to storytelling and songwriting. “I was so drawn to her, for a lack of a better word, rage,” Said says of their initial impression of Apple’s music. But rage is a single arrow in a full quiver, the depth of emotional vulnerability is what held the most appeal. The suggestion that an array of emotional frequencies can resonate and create a place for instrument and voice to work in harmony as a vehicle for storytelling. Said is the rare artist who picks through the layers of the art they absorb and finds takeaways to bring home and use in their own creations, taking lessons learned from the art that has impacted them the most to perfect their own craft.
That emotional vulnerability is given full breath on songs like the gorgeous and lush “my little room”, the finale of the stories weaving in and out of each over the course of mole. “Time is an illusion, keeping me in place that’s kept under my skin” Said sings over a sea of gently plucked strings, each existing in their own perfect place in time. As the song builds we are greeted by the subtle, stunning bowing of Eliza Niemi’s cello, Aaron Hutchinson’s tender and somber horns and Victoria Bury’s gentle and lilting flute. Layers threaded into the depth of the beautiful closing track, hints at a depth that requires multiple listens to fully explore.
Other influences give life to the tracks on mole, outside poolblood’s musical influences. Films also played their part in pushing the inspiration behind the overarching narrative, notably the intimate bond between Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix in critically acclaimed homoerotic drama My Own Private Idaho. “I thought it was so beautiful,” Said says, “That idea of how friendship, platonic and romantic, can weave in and out each other.” The themes in the film, how a friend can love another so deeply, but also be so tethered to their vision of the other as their rock that they are afraid of losing them forever, informed poolblood’s desire to fully explore the realm of intimate relationships.
Not afraid of letting their sly sense of humour bleed through the layers, mole is rife with a sense of humour and wonder dancing playfully along. Like “twinkie”, a driving uptempo rock song with a chorus that rises from the dance floor to the heavens, reminiscent of the best indie pop of an era when bands like The Shins changed our lives forever. It’s playful and tender, moving your feet to the rhythm of an ever present heart.
It is fitting too that on an album so much centered around the connectivity of deep and abiding friendships that mole is awash with collaborators, each bringing their own unique talent and skill into the mix. Louie Short and Shamir Bailey worked with Said as producers on the project, and played on a number of tracks in addition to a cadre of musicians filtering in and out of each song. The impact of the connection between us living not just at the core of the songs, but at the heart of those creating the underlying musical landscape is felt as the sensibilities of each new drummer, guitar or horn adds a new and specific element to the record.
mole is a record that speaks to us all, sings to our hearts and moves within our feet. Songs of love, loss and rebirth that we can all find ourselves reflected in and take our own stories away from. It is the underlying theme of our lives, the lives of those we love and the lives of those we have lost by time and distance. Through it all we connect with the beautiful, tender and uplifting world that poolblood has laid before us. We can feel mole in our bones because we have, and always will be, the stories told within.