Max Lindberg, working under the moniker Black Pool, honed the musical skills evident throughout his new single “Be Yourself” during his time living in Nicaragua. He lived in a small wooden shack on the beach and spent his nights serving up his growing musical vision in local bars. He created the Black Pool persona upon his return to the United States and began releasing his idiosyncratic of bedroom pop rock shortly thereafter. He’s accumulated over ten million streams since then and stands on the cusp of releasing an EP. “Be Yourself” is more than just a single; it is a preview of what’s coming from this individual and memorable musical artist.
The Long Beach, California based singer/songwriter opens “Be Yourself” with evocative stylishness that captures your attention. His vocal and the guitar playing alike glide through the arrangement with easy confidence, never rushing things, and the production enhances the texture. There are no rough edges present here, but the lack of such moments doesn’t undercut the authenticity of the performance. It is rife with feeling and genuine emotion from the first note to last.
It boasts light atmospherics as well thanks to the echo-laden approach Black Pool takes towards recording both his singing and the instruments. He could have easily erred and overcooked this touch on the performance, but Black Pool does an exceptional job of avoiding anything smacking of self indulgence. Every defining characteristic of “Be Yourself” is functional rather than ornamental and serves the song rather than attempting to dress it up in a dishonest manner.
He definitely belongs in the bedroom indie pop rock category. There’s appealing intimacy present throughout the performance. He obviously aims this track for mass consumption, but Black Pool presents his art in such a way you can forgive listeners if they feel like he’s directing the performance to them rather than a wider audience. He ingratiates himself with listeners through musical excellence, of course, but it is the soft swing of his voice and his easy charisma that wins you over more than anything else.
The lyrical content bears mentioning. Black Pool’s message, in the hands of a lesser talent, might ring hollow or sound trite. His treatment of the subject, self explanatory by the song’s title, benefits from Black Pool never overplaying his hand. His direct and economical style as a lyricist keeps prevents the song from running off the rails Black Pool isn’t attempting to remake the songwriting wheel with “Be Yourself” but delivers a statement stamped with individuality.
All musical artists, any artist for that matter, has a collection of influences informing their work, but you can draw no direct line from Black Pool to anyone else. He is his own man. If “Be Yourself” is, indeed, a preview of what listeners can expect from his forthcoming EP release, it will herald the arrival of a major new talent on the indie scene. This is musical talent with staying power and launches a career that is likely to be long and quite rewarding for both the performer and those who encounter his music.
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