Pool Kids makes perfect pop rock songs about online life

Like most of us, Christine Goodwyne gets crazy online every now and then. It’s unusual, however, for the 27-year-old singer and guitarist for the up-and-coming band Pool Kids to channel that feeling into some great pop rock songs. One such track is “Talk Too Much,” the anthemic centerpiece of the band’s self-titled second album, released last week; thereupon, Goodwyne manages to make a virtual argument sound really nice. On a Tuesday evening in June, she and her bandmates – guitarist Andy Anaya, drummer Caden Clinton, and bassist **Nicolette Alvarez-** played it during their show at the Bushwick venue Brooklyn Made, and with group cohesion and incredible musical chops, they got a crowd cheering and dancing to a song about online trolling.

We first met when she sat down at the merch table afterward, dressed in full garb of early 2000s rock stars and selling the band’s smart T-shirts and hats that she embroidered herself. A few weeks later, Goodwyne called me from the Chicago apartment she shares with Alvarez after finishing her job in digital marketing. Wearing glasses and her hair in a bun, Clark Kent to the superhero onstage, explained exactly what it was about the Internet that helped her channel that universal sense of frustration.

“I’m going through all these different emotions, and I just can’t think of lyrics about them or how to say them without being so on edge,” she said. “When I’m frustrated and angry with the way someone is behaving on Twitter, for some reason it just flows out of me — all the things I want to say to them. And [a song] is such a good way to say it without just tweeting back.”

She professed a love for TikTok and other social media platforms, and it seems she is adept at integrating real life and online into her stories. One song on the album casually weaves a line about the frustration of a group chat with 21 people in a larger tale of a strained relationship. “It may sound sarcastic, but I’m really sincere. I’m trying to say, ‘Listen, I’m doing the same, and I’m trying to get better,'” she said. “That’s how I feel about a lot of the angry lyrics. I’m angry, but I don’t hate you either.”

By Kay Dargen.

So, in true emo tradition, Goodwyne writes wise and deft lyrics about the things she sees around her, then, with the help of her own considerable musicianship and her talented bandmates, combines them with rousing guitar licks and crushing percussion. The band started performing in 2017 and in July 2018 released its debut album, Music to practice safe sex with. It lit a slow fuse over the rock internet that finally ignited when… Hayley Williams from Paramore praise them to her 2 million Instagram followers in April.

Since then, they’ve gotten more influential boosters like John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats, who told Stereogum that “they make really beautiful music” and invited them to open on several of his tour dates in September. Goodwyne said she was honored, even though she didn’t quite understand his choice. But their shared love for wordy, searching lyrics and songcraft makes the choice very logical.

The band’s breathtaking prowess as musicians is most apparent when Goodwyne and Anaya act extremely hard, shredding guitar solos, standing close to each other and ripping energy apart. Goodwyne explained that while she and Anaya both started playing guitar when they were young, Anaya has more natural skills than she does. (“Nevertheless, he practices a lot!” she added quickly.)

Goodwyne picked up the instrument at the age of ten and taught herself a range of songs and advanced skills on YouTube. “I remember being super young and just seeing a guitarist in a beer commercial ripping a solo and thinking, ‘That’s me.” But she didn’t start writing songs or realizing how much she loved going on stage until she was in college. She said the songs that came on the band’s debut album were some of the first she’d ever written.

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