Carpool Tunnel – ‘Bloom’

By Tom Walsh

Call up your friends, load up the convertible and throw away the map, because Carpool Tunnel are transporting us to sun-soaked California along the winding Mulholland Highway. Feel the wind in your hair as you look out over cliffs, snaking your way down to the pristine beaches of Malibu… all the while their debut LP ‘Bloom’ plays on the crackling stereo.

The California quartet offer a dose of escapism in the form of a distinct brand of surf rock that makes you pine for those warm, summer nights. Maybe it was a deliberate ploy to release this record in late-February – in the middle of a pandemic – to make us mentally jet off to that inviting paradise.

‘Bloom’ is a wonderfully upbeat, infectious album filled with clever hooks and all the hallmarks of the late-1960s and early-1970s psychedelic bands. In more contemporary terms, think of a male version of Tacocat, but replacing the searing social commentary with sing-along choruses and phaser guitars.

Lead single ‘Flora’ already seems a radio-ready hit with a ‘feel-good hit of the summer’ vibe and poppy chorus. They delve a little more into the psychedelic with ‘Forget My Name’ while the almost new wave ‘Tarot Cards’ paints a picture of a Malibu sunset as you drive towards the twinkling lights of a beach party.

There are reflective moments in Carpool Tunnel’s arsenal – ‘Nostalgia’ is a crooning ballad that pops into a doo-wop hit complete with pitch-perfect harmonies and irresistible fuzzy guitars. ‘Bloom’ comes to a climax with the final track ‘Closer’, which puts a definitive exclamation point on this impressive debut as singer Ben Koppenjan talks about the obstacles you have to overcome while traversing life.

In writing ‘Bloom’, Carpool Tunnel stressed they wanted to create something that stood as the light within the current state of darkness. And, by mentally transporting us to the soft sands and crashing waves of the Californian coast, ‘Bloom’ provides just the level of escapism you could desire on those cold, winter evenings.

TOM WALSH

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