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Stagnant Pools of Indiana released debut album Temporary Room in 2012, and it was a pretty noisy business. The preamble for the follow-up would have us believe we're not only getting more of the same, but louder. They can get louder? Excellent.

Stagnant Pools have been described in various parts as 'noise rock'. The instrumentation is certainly pretty raucous in places. It's pleasant to conjure up the image of a crowd of unsuspecting gig-goers leaving a small venue with blood and brains seeping from their ears after being battered by 'To Begin' or 'Dots and Lines' from this new record. In places, the sonic bludgeoning comes across like My Bloody Valentine, albeit a little less distorted.

Unfortunately, Geist isn't live, and this record suffers from a considerable production issue. To listen to this album at sufficient volume to do it justice you'd virtually have to physically combine yourself with singer Bryan Enas, and not in a good way. His vocals are so loud in comparison with the rest of the sound on the album it's almost all you hear while he's singing - his guitar and brother Douglass's drums are practically incidental much of the time.

And perhaps that would be all right, were Bryan not wearily droning through every vocal like Matt Berninger, as is his customary style. The National can get away with it thanks to a combination of intelligent lyrical cynicism and well thought-out melodies, and indeed Stagnant Pools pulled it off expertly on Temporary Room. But while the singing on Geist is entirely fine and suits the backing music, having it front and centre gives the entire album a somnambulant feel that comes across as flat-out depressing. I like a miserable record as much as the next grumpy bastard but that doesn't mean I want a real-life Droopy to moan my 'noise rock' into the background.

Stagnant Pools have also slowed things down a lot for album number two. 'Alternate Ending' from the debut album was a lot more sober than tracks like 'Dead Sailor' and 'Consistency', and this is the template used by Geist. It's a fine strategy - the songs, and I can't stress this enough, are impressive here - but it simply furthers the disagreeable sense of being incanted to by a downcast choral soloist over 36 troubling minutes.

It's hard to describe how disappointing this flaw is. I genuinely believe that with a touch more volume on the instruments and a bit of extra distance between one man's mouth and his microphone, this might have been a blissful exercise in studied yet clamorous rock music. Fans of the first album should certainly get Geist in case this is just me suffering a scientifically questionable ear blockage that only lets voices get through, related to my lifelong hatred of Tindersticks. Everyone else, though, should start with Temporary Room.

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