Abandoned Pools – Sublime Currency

By Carter Fraser on August-19-2012 | Filed under Dissertation Conte Philosophique Voltairien.

Abandoned Pools – Sublime Currency
Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/54
5.0 (6 votes)

Artist: Abandoned Pools (Spotify)
Sublime Currency
Tooth & Nail
Release Date: 
Carter Fraser


  1. Sublime Currency
  2. Hype is the Enemy
  3. Unrehearsed
  4. Behemoth
  5. 9 Billion
  6. Autopilot
  7. In Silence
  8. Marigolds
  9. Legionnaire
  10. From Long Sleep
  11. In Shadows

The Christian market is quite a unique entity. It’s an odd subset of mostly disparate outfits held together by shared faith, not style. I mean, where else could you have a wildly successful tour with power-pop/rap TobyMac, hard rock Skillet, and alternative rock House of Heroes? It’s not that there aren’t secular listeners that listen to artists of all types, but where else do you see them routinely grouped together like this? It’s a unique “scene” where the “scene” isn’t held together by the actual music. That’s a blessing for Abandoned Pools, because he (Tommy Walter) certainly doesn’t fit the current sonic landscape of the scene he’s trying to drop into. And he is dropping in—he’s made music for well over a decade, first with Eels, then under the Abandoned Pools moniker starting in 2001. Why he’s decided to enter the foray now remains unknown, but his success is all but guaranteed.

I’m not aware of any artist in the Christian market that has ever tried quite the sound Tommy Walter is going for. Paper Route is in the same vein, but there are noticeable differences. In the past Abandoned Pools sought to fuse hard rock with dream pop, yielding interesting results, but now the hard rock is all but gone. Sublime Currency then is essentially then a synth pop album. Everything is washed with a refreshing electronic drone, and the guitars are as clean as they can be. However, traditional drums make frequent appearances, giving everything a noticeable rock foundation. The vibrant pop aesthetics are remarkably successful in being exuberant, yet never obnoxious (see the explosive title track and lead single). In some ways, it feels like a simple indie rock album that was given an electronic makeover, but in all the right ways. The melodies are endearing and tinged with a familiar nostalgia, and the whirring synths bring everything together into one cohesive piece.

Walter’s vocals are bound to be a source of reservation for many, however. His voice has always sounded mechanical, but Sublime Currency does see him at his most robotic. Sometimes this may be due to some auto-tuning, but just often it’s voice effects, and the vocal editing is much more fitting when there are already heavy electronic undertones. At times Walter’s raw past cuts through, such as on “9 Billion” and “Legionnaire,” which come off as throwbacks to some of his earlier work filtered through a newfound optimism. On the other hand, these are also each bordered by some of the slowest tracks on Sublime Currency. “Behemoth” is destined to be a radio hit with its expansive chorus with the ever-ambiguous, “tonight / a current blows inside my conscience / you are my guiding light / you are my sunshine.” My guess is as good as yours whether or not “you” is “You,” but more than likely the line was designed to be as versatile as a mainstream-era Switchfoot song. The closer “In Shadows” is another highlight, though bearing suspicious similarity to Deas Vail’s “Surface.”

Overall: It’ll be a shame if Sublime Currency doesn’t succeed. While it seems like there could be numerous moments where Walter’s act might fall to pieces, it never does in the slightest. At its best, it’s a pop album as heartwarming as they come. Though there may be still enough turnoffs present for a number of listeners, I’d encourage you to give Sublime Currency a try. It’s a new sound for Christian market, and a very welcome one at that.

RIYL: Paper Route, Falling Up, Joy Electric, Capital Lights, fun., M83, Starflyer 59, Owl City

Abandoned Pools - Sublime Currency, 5.0 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

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About the author Carter Fraser

I'm a student originally from Arlington, TX, but currently residing in St. Louis, MO. I enjoy music, going to concerts, playing and watching baseball, working with my hands, fishing, art, Minecraft, and sleeping/eating/other necessary activities for life. Long walks on the beach are acceptable as well. View all posts by Carter Fraser

14 Responses to 'Abandoned Pools – Sublime Currency'

  1. Lucas says:

    Can’t wait for this. From the little I’ve heard, I really expect this to be one of the best records to come out of T&N in a long time.

  2. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I love the first single they’ve released.

  3. Bill Haverchuck says:

    I’m really surprised these guys are now considered part of the “Christian market”. “Leathal Killers”, the opener to their last (great, under-rated) album “Armed to the Teeth”, is Walters espousing the virtues of being an atheist.

    • there’s a press release that sort of vaguely implies he’s a Christian now (super, super vague) and like I said “Behemoth” could be sort of a Christian-oriented song… the album is clean, that I can assure.

    • Scott says:

      I was wondering about that as well, if being associated with T&N making an artist automatically a Christian artist. Interesting.

    • Maybe this helps?

      How has religion influenced your work so far?

      Good question. That’s kind of changed over the years. You know, now it’s funny. Now we’re on Tooth & Nail, which is a Christian label. It’s not overtly Christian, and it also it markets to Christian markets and secular markets, which is perfect for us, because this album…I’m not going to be leading worship at a church anytime soon, that’s for sure. But the core of the album…it’s a Christian album at its core, and if you listen to the last record, it’s not that at all, and it sounds just like some guy just flailing around trying to figure things out. So now that I have that solid ground, I feel that I have that solid core. So it’s another reason why Tooth & Nail is perfect, in yes, there’s a Christian core message, but it’s also secular. It’s not like I’m going out leading worship or singing gospel. The core is there, it’s just not overt.

      Albert Einstein Essay.

    • http://www.sephiroth.it/?phd-thesis-massachusetts-institute-of-technology Phd Thesis Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. says:

      that’s an interesting quote just because it’s an artist on Tooth & Nail calling Tooth & Nail a Christian label

  4. boo says:

    geez some of you kids are idiots..just living with your parents in their basement kind of idiots

  5. Yeah, you don’t seem to realize that Abandoned Pools is not a Christian band, nor is Tooth & Nail NECESSARILY a Christian label. Yes, it was founded by people and features plenty of acts who have had a lot to do with the Christian music scene, but the label does have several imprints, one of which is devoted SPECIFICALLY to Christian acts, and another of which is specifically for secular acts.

    Also, it’s “Eels.” They were never called “The Eels.” I know that last one is nitpicky, but it’s another kind of glaring detail this article gets very, very wrong. And I don’t think it would’ve taken a lot of research to correct either of those mistakes.

    This is some seriously shoddy music writing going on, here.

  6. Lucas says:

    Yep. Best T&N album since “The Silver Cord”. I’m sure of it. Absolutely blown away by how well crafted these songs are! And Carter, your shoddy review perfectly described the album. Good job! :)
    Except I’d probably give this a 5/5. An easy 9/10 on the old scale to say the least…

  7. Lucas says:

    Best T&N album since “The Silver Cord”. I’m sure of it! Can’t get over how well crafted all of these songs are! And loving the diversity, especially with “9 Billion”. Btw Carter, your shoddy review perfectly described this record! Good job! :)

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