who is shallow pools?

Shallow Pools isn’t just a band. Rather, it’s four people who feel a compulsion to react to the state of the world around them and weave those emotions and their ideas into their songs to make a point. And while the Boston-based four-piece—drummer Ali Ajemian, vocalist Glynnis Brennan, guitarist Jess Gromada and bassist Haley Senft—often write about their own deeply personal struggles with mental health, they’re also never afraid to point out injustice when they see it. A case in point was “Say What You Want”, the band’s first song for Equal Vision Records. Co-written with PVRIS frontwoman (and fellow Massachusetts native) Lynn Gunn, it was the first single to be taken from their debut full-length, I Think About It All The Time. The song’s genesis stems from a Pride event Shallow Pools—all of whom are proud members of the LGBTQ+ community—were playing. Because amidst all the celebrations at the event, there were also, sadly, some protestors.
“Glynnis actually went up and talked to them,” remembers Gromada, “and we channeled that experience into that song. It’s basically our response to them.”
“I feel like we always want to make some kind of statement,” adds Brennan, “and after that show we wanted to write something that basically said ‘Fuck the haters’. As members of the LGBTQ+ community, this song just feels really important to us.”

That song’s fiery attitude and lyrics are at odds with its music, but that’s a contradiction Shallow Pools love to explore when they write songs. It’s not just an individual hallmark of the 10 tracks that make up I Think About It All The Time, but one that can be extended to the album as a whole. The thing that’s being thought of constantly, you see, is, as Ajemian succinctly puts it “not great stuff”, and it permeates every fiber of this record.
“When we were writing this album,” elaborates Gromada, “we were thinking about the end of the world a lot. We just couldn’t get it out of our minds or stop thinking about it.”
The result is a record that paints a vivid picture of the dystopian times we find ourselves in in 2023—both in general, but especially in the USA if you’re a minority. It’s that unavoidable setting that dictated both the tone and the themes of this album, but also which propelled the band—all of whom are close friends who live together—to rally against the discrimination and oppression which seems to be becoming more and more a part of everyday life.
“It’s kind of a concept album—almost,” laughs Ajemian. “But when we listened back to it, we realized it was less an end of the world album than just all the different things that consumed us, whether that’s environmental or external or internal things.”

While these songs came into existence as a way to vent about those things, writing them didn’t, sadly, always have quite the cathartic effect the band were hoping for.
“It didn’t quite exorcize all of our feelings,” Ajemian continues, “and unfortunately I do still think about the end of the world all the time, but it definitely does help. We wrote “Nightmare”, for example, about how when we were on tour there were all these men in the crowd who were just being inappropriate. But we decided to do something with that instead of just being mad about it.”
“There was a lot of pent-up anger we had to get out based on those experiences on tour,” adds
Gromada. “A lot of the record is us reacting to things that were happening at the time. So it's honestly going to end up being a really good snapshot of where we were when we wrote it.”

Whether it’s the ominous yet uplifting pulse of opener “Nightmare”, the slick, sophisticated pop of the aforementioned “Say What You Want” or the hyperactively blissful yet simultaneously melancholy strains of “Glass House”, this album is indeed just that. Recorded at Reclaim Studios in Thompson, CT with Chris Curran in two sessions with a tour in the middle—hence the inspiration for “Nightmare”—it’s an album that truly highlights just how much and how far the band has come since starting out playing together as friends in school about a decade ago, then forming Shallow Pools five or so years later.
Listen, for instance, to the melancholy pop-punk-with-a-twist of “Dead Ends” or the lush, ’80s-inspired atmospherics of “Golden”, which marries emotional fragility with instrumentation that Bryan Adams in his prime would be both proud and jealous of. Elsewhere, “Now Or Never” was also written with Lynn Gunn because both parties enjoyed the experience of creating “Say What You Want” together so much, while “All We Got”—an incredibly beguiling up-tempo dance in the face of oblivion—was written with Cameron Walker from Twin XL.

But underneath all the glossy, professional production values, catchy hooks and singalong melodies is a set of sensitive, soulful songs riddled with both the pain of existence and that very vivid fear that existence will end far too soon. That’s cleverly manifested in the plaintive burst of flames that is “No Good At Goodbyes”—a song that is very directly and literally about the end of the world, and which ends the record with the harrowing warm glow of a burning world, a scorched earth where humanity is no more. And yet, despite that oblivion, there’s still—somewhere, somehow—a sense of hope and a defiant fighting spirit within its framework. So as much as I Think About It All The Time was inspired by the end of the world, and as much as the band say the catharsis they needed from it didn’t really materialize, it nevertheless exists as a tangible, physical beacon of hope and defiance for those who listen to it.
“The most important thing to me,” says Brennan, “ is making people feel safe and comfortable. I know that’s something that I looked for when I was younger.”
“I just really hope people listen to it and relate to it and find a sense of community through us,” adds Ajemian. “We have a small community right already now, and they’ve all become friends with each other and hang out, and I just want that for more people.”
“And hopefully this album will give us the opportunity to play in front of more people,” adds Brennan, “because that’s my favorite part of all this. Because then you get to talk to people face to face and they can tell you what it means to them. And that gets me crying.”