Intimate, empowering songwriting explodes with heated passion and spirited energy on ‘I Think About It All the Time’ as Boston indie pop band shallow pools invite us to dwell in our depths, dance with our troubles, and take stock of the things that matter most in this life.
for fans of now, now, MUNA, The Aces, The Beaches
Stream: “Golden” – shallow pools
It’s the end of the world as we know it – and shallow pools are anything but fine.
But that won’t stop them from singing their hearts out and confronting all the bad players in their path. Urgent, aching, and all-consuming, the Boston band’s debut album is a radiant and rousing indie pop fever dream: A cathartic eruption of tension, turbulence, and inner turmoil channeled into songs that jolt us awake, moving the mind, body, and soul. Intimate songwriting explodes with heated passion and spirited energy on I Think About It All the Time as shallow pools invite us to dwell in our depths, dance with our troubles, and take stock of the things that matter most in this life.
It’s a bold and beautiful reckoning – one we can’t wait to take with us into the many years to come.
Hold my breath
Afraid so I watch my step
Avoiding what happens next
A weight on my chest
The harder I try
I can’t seem to focus
I’m just getting by
And everyone knows it
I try to deny it, but nobody buys it
I just wanna feel something golden but
I know that it won’t last forever
I try to live in the moment
I’m holding on tight
With every hello comes goodbye
– “Golden,” shallow pools
Released October 13, 2023 via Equal Vision Records, I Think About It All The Time is a spellbinding introduction to a band we simply can’t get enough of. Friends first and bandmates… also first, the four-piece of vocalist Glynnis Brennan, drummer Ali Ajemian, guitarist Jess Gromada, and bassist Haley Senft officially formed shallow pools in 2018, and have been carving out their own indie pop niche in Beantown ever since. Their band name comes from lyrics in the Paramore song, “Pool”: “Never found the deep end of our little ocean, I drain the fantasy of you, headfirst into shallow pools.”
Headfirst into shallow pools, we go.
Inspired and taking cues from contemporaries in the indie pop world – bands like Now, Now, MUNA, Fickle Friends, The Aces, and The Beaches – shallow pools’ music is both musically and emotionally hard hitting. They hold nothing back in crafting big, catchy, and instantly memorable hooks, all without sacrificing substance or depth: Every one of their songs aches from the inside out, especially on their debut album as the band immerse themselves in an all-too relatable slew of emotional and existential struggles.
“When we were writing this album, the end of the world was in the back of our minds at all times,” shallow pools tell Atwood Magazine. “We couldn’t stop thinking about everything that is leading the world down a dark, scary path. Societal issues, climate change, lack of mental health resources. The album title summarizes our collective state of mind while writing these songs.”
“I Think About It All The Time kind of summarizes how we all feel every day, because there are so many things that are constantly taking up space in our minds,” Jess Gromada expands. “We channeled the feeling of being consumed by our thoughts into the writing process, so the title felt like the perfect way to describe our collective state of mind.”
The world keeps spinning
and we can’t stop chasing the time
Counting the minutes
‘Til we reach the end of the line
Tonight, can we pretend everything is alright
And let go?
Promise that we’ll never die
Swearing that I’ll never cry
No we got nothing to hide
Having the time of our lives
It’s getting down to the wire
Maybe we’re playing with fire
This feelings taking me higher
All we got, all we got
We’re tryna fight the sun
But it just won’t stop
shallow pools previously released three EPs – 2019’s Spring, 2021’s headspace, and 2022’s daydreaming are all filled with musical gold, and showcase the band’s growth as they honed their skills and dug deeper not only into their craft, but also into themselves. I Think About It All The Time is, in so many ways, the natural evolution for the four-piece: Vivid and vulnerable, its ten songs balance perfectly on that ever-so-elusive fulcrum between meaning and pop perfection.
The roots of this album date back to last summer, when the band signed to Albany, New York-based indie record label Equal Vision Records.
“We had never written an album before, so it was a big learning experience for us!” Gromada tells Atwood Magazine. “At first, we were writing songs without a theme in mind, but we noticed pretty quickly that we kept adding end-of-the-world references into the lyrics and decided to fully immerse ourselves in that theme.”
“We also went on our first full US tour in the middle of writing the album and that experience definitely inspired a few of the songs – whether it was uncomfortable physical and verbal interactions with men in the crowd, or just really loving all of the new friends we made!” Ali Ajemian adds. “When we first started writing we didn’t really know what we wanted from the album, but after the first few songs we knew we wanted it to be about the end of the world in some way! We wrote ‘Now or Never,’ ‘Say What You Want,’ and ‘No Good At Goodbyes’ in the same week, and once we got those three songs down we structured everything around them!”
Whereas Gromada describes their debut as nostalgic, cathartic, and moody, vocalist Glynnis Brennan considers it angry, sad, and hopeful.
Both members are right in their assessments; moments of reckoning and release, celebration and damnation converge and coalesce throughout I Think About It All the Time’s thirty-minute run.
“I feel like this album [also] combines so many different genres,” Gromada adds. “Some songs have more pop and synth elements, and other songs have more alternative elements. It’s an accurate representation of our personalities and of the kind of music we pull inspiration from.”
That truth is borne out in the songs themselves: From the heated, ominous alt-rock strut of “Nightmare” and the sweetly seductive pop glow of “Say What You Want,” to the bustling beat of “In Too Deep” and the dance-pop allure of “Glass House,” the album’s first four songs alone make for a stunning, seamless display of shallow pools’ multifaceted artistry and musical talent.
“Say What You Want,” the album’s very first single, is particularly resounding and noteworthy. “[It’s] a response to those who use religion to justify hate,” the band share. “We wrote the song two months after a local pride event where we were accosted by religious protestors. Although we are open about and comfortable with our sexualities, the incident stuck with us, especially because we could see the negative effect that the protestors had on young, queer kids.”
“We collaborated on this song with Lynn Gunn of PVRIS,” they add. “It was the first time we collaborated with another queer artist, and it was the most comfortable we’ve felt in a writing session. We were able to take our shared experiences and turn them into lyrics. The song spilled out quickly and we finished it in a day and a half… We wanted “ooh lala” to be an empowering and anthemic chant. One of our favorite lyrics in the song is in the second verse. “You feed off suppression. You say it’s not your intention, but your message is a little bit hazy.” This line is aimed at those with hypocritical or contradictory beliefs. If someone says, “I’m not homophobic but…” then this lyric is for them.”
You’re calling me the devil
But she’s calling me baby
I’m on a higher level
But you’re trying to save me
And I don’t have to apologize for
Can’t be nobody else, oh
Point your finger and crucify
If I’m going to hell
Then I can’t even tell
Say what you want
Go oh nah nah nah
I say oo la la la
‘Cause Imma do what I want
Go oh nah nah nah
I say oo la la la
Further highlights include the existential-crisis-turned-infectious-runaway-anthem “All We Got,” the hard-hitting “IHYK,” the tight sing-your-heart-out eruption “Now or Never,” and this writer’s personal favorite, “Golden” – a dazzling outpouring of simultaneous passion and pain, heartache and euphoria – all combined into one visceral, dreamy reverie.
The band describe the latter as an anthem for being mentally and emotionally present, rather than obsessing about an eventual end: “Living in the moment is hard when you know that the ending is inevitable,” they share. “We’ve all experienced the feeling of being stuck between happiness and existential dread, and we wanted to convey that feeling in ‘Golden.’”
In fact, one of the many qualities that makes I Think About It All The Time such a strong debut album is that its back half is as strong as its front half: The final trilogy of songs “All We Got,” “Golden,” and “No Good at Goodbyes” house some of the record’s catchiest songwriting, as well as some of the band’s most memorable performances. Whereas a majority of albums tend to “die down” toward the end, shallow pools make it clear that they’ll sleep only when they’re dead. Until then, we’re dancing the night away.
The album’s finale is actually a favorite amongst multiple band members. “My all time favorite shallow pools song is ‘No Good At Goodbyes,'” Ajemian says. “I love the way it builds and it was so fun to write. We all really had a vision and got the song done quickly!”
“My favorite is also ‘No Good At Goodbyes,’” bass guitarist Haley Senft smiles, “but I also hold ‘Dead Ends’ high on my list. I tend to joke about my anxieties as a coping mechanism. It’s such a dancey and fun song, but the lyrical content is so opposite of that. Those are my favorite kinds of songs.”
As far as favorite lyrics are concerned, there’s a little more diversity between band members’ answers.
“I think ‘You’re calling me the devil but she’s calling me baby‘ is such a powerful start for the record’s first single, ‘Say What You Want,'” Ajemian says. “The queer community is full of love, yet sadly, some choose to direct hate our way. We found strength in embracing that and using it as a source of empowerment.”
You’re calling me the devil
But she’s calling me baby (calling me baby)
I’m on a higher level
But you’re trying to save me (trying to save me)
And I don’t have to apologize for Bein’ myself
Can’t be nobody else, oh
Point your finger and crucify If I’m goin’ to hell
Then I can’t even tell
“I really like the chorus of ‘Golden,'” Senft adds. “‘I just wanna feel something golden, but I know that it won’t last forever. I try to live in the moment. I’m holding on tight. With every hello comes goodbye.‘ My anxiety about the future and other things going on in my life often seems to creep into my head when I’m trying to enjoy a nice moment in life. It can be so hard to shut that out and enjoy a moment for what it is, instead of thinking about how it will eventually end.”
Indeed, it’s all too easy to let our worries and anxieties consume our every waking moment. For many, that’s just life – and while shallow pools’ four members certainly wouldn’t disagree with that assessment, their album encourages all of us to open our hearts and minds and free ourselves of these burdens by singing them loud and proud, high up into the heavens. Own your struggles; don’t let them own you.
It may indeed be the end of the world as we know it, but with shallow pools album playing on repeat, we know we’ll be alright.
“I hope that some people can relate to it, learn from it, or find some kind of solace in it with the way the world is today,” Haley Senft shares. “I learned so much about myself and our band through writing this album. I think we really know what kind of music we want to be making now as well which feels really good.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside shallow pools’ I Think About It All The Time with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album!
‘I Think About It All The Time’ – shallow pools
:: Inside I Think About It All the Time ::
“Nightmare” is about how we won’t stand for the lack of respect for physical and emotional boundaries. On tour, we experienced uncomfortable physical and verbal interactions with men in the crowd multiple times. Inappropriate touches and conversations. Backhanded compliments. Condescending tones. It became frequent enough that we started a note called “shit they said to us” just so we could document the ridiculousness of it all. When we got home from the tour, we read through the note again and thought about how we could channel our anger and exasperation with the situation into a song.
We knew we wanted to write a gritty, bass-heavy song, and this topic fit the instrumental we were going for. The first lyrics we wrote were “You wanna dream about me? I can be your fucking nightmare. I can haunt you in your sleep. I can be the ghost you look for, but I’m always out of reach.” The message is clear: if you want to project your fantasy or dream onto us, we’ll turn it into a nightmare.
In verse two, the lyrics “Yeah you always cross the line. You’re ignoring all the signs” stand out to us. We deliberately chose the word “ignoring” because sometimes, the person who crosses the line continues to cross the line, even when they are met with clear signs of discomfort.
The bridge is haunting. The anger in us builds as we continue to experience these situations. “Can you feel the heat? Lighter to gasoline. Fire burning underneath your feet. You wanna dream about me?” There comes a point where things have to end, and it feels like the bridge is the tipping point before the last chorus kicks in.
Say What You Want
“Say What You Want” is a response to those who use religion to justify hate. We wrote the song two months after a local pride event where we were accosted by religious protestors. Although we are open about and comfortable with our sexualities, the incident stuck with us, especially because we could see the negative effect that the protestors had on young, queer kids.
We collaborated on this song with Lynn Gunn of PVRIS. It was the first time we collaborated with another queer artist, and it was the most comfortable we’ve felt in a writing session. We were able to take our shared experiences and turn them into lyrics. The song spilled out quickly and we finished it in a day and a half.
The track started with the chorus bassline, and we immediately started spitting out melodies and lyrics. This isn’t how we usually write, but it was a refreshing change. The opening line “You’re calling me the devil, but she’s calling me baby” points out the stark contrast between love and hate. The lyric “If I’m going to hell, then I can’t even tell” right before the chorus expresses that we’re happy being who we are and loving who we want, despite the fact that many view our love as a sin. The chorus furthers the idea of being yourself and doing what you want, no matter what others think. We wanted “ooh lala” to be an empowering and anthemic chant.
One of our favorite lyrics in the song is in the second verse. “You feed off suppression. You say it’s not your intention, but your message is a little bit hazy.” This line is aimed at those with hypocritical or contradictory beliefs. If someone says, “I’m not homophobic but…” then this lyric is for them.
In Too Deep
“In Too Deep” is about struggling with mental health and feeling like you are trapped in a recurring nightmare. The song started off with a guitar riff and a few weird synth parts, arcade loops, and percussion sounds. The instrumental is purposefully chaotic at times—it represents exactly what we were feeling in the moment.
Once we had a bit of the instrumental laid down, we started talking about each of our own recurring stress dreams and nightmares. At the time, Glynnis was having nightmares almost nightly; some of them were scary, and some of them were more unsettling. We reflected on what nightmares mean and tried to find the correlation between our nightmares and our mental health struggles.
We noticed that each of us have had nightmares that incorporated water in some way, which inspired the opening line and the title of the song. “I have the same dream every week. I’m underwater and I can’t breathe. Now I’m afraid to fall asleep. Maybe I’m in too deep.”
The weight of our nightmares and mental health struggles make us feel like we’re drowning or sinking at times, and the chorus lyrics express this. “It’s too much to carry. This weight is way too heavy. My nightmares, they haunt me. I’m tired of running away.”
But we also know that we have to face our struggles at some point.
“Glass House” is about watching someone you once knew become consumed by ego. The song describes a moment of realization—we no longer need to stay in a toxic and unhealthy friendship simply to feed someone else’s ego. This was one of the first songs we wrote for the album. Originally, the song had different lyrics and melodies, but as the instrumental progressed, we found that there were better ways to express the feeling of a friendship gone wrong.
This song is unlike anything we’ve written before. The instrumental, which is heavily inspired by Carly Rae Jepsen, incorporates some funk elements, and the lyrics contain hints of attitude and subtle sarcasm. We wanted the lyrics to be empowering and truthful, expressing that it’s okay to end a friendship and do what’s right for yourself.
The opening line of the song is actually the last line we wrote. “House of glass, shattered by the stones you cast.” This lyric sums up everything we were feeling when writing this song. The friend we once knew was placing blame on everyone else and taking no accountability for their own actions.
“IHYK” is a love letter to our support systems. This was the last song we wrote for the album and it was also one of the most difficult songs to write! Originally, there was an entirely different instrumental, but we didn’t feel like it did the melody justice. On one of the last days of recording the album, we scrapped the full instrumental and wrote completely new parts that lifted the melody.
We had been listening to a lot of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Surrender My Heart,” so we tried to channel that vibe in the rewrite. The uplifting feeling we got from the new instrumental and melody together was different from the rest of the songs, so we knew that we wanted to write lyrics that captured that energy and touch on more positive topics.
When we were first talking about what keeps us going when we’re feeling down, we immediately thought of our cats, Bibby and Noodle! We thought about missing them when we’re on tour, but we know they’re waiting for us at home. We conveyed this in the opening line of the song. “If I feel myself fading, I know you’ll be there waiting.”
Along the way, we started thinking about our family, friends, and anyone who has supported us. We decided to save the chorus and build up to it so that when it finally hits, you can feel how much we want to thank the people (and pets) in our lives that care about us. “No one comes close to you. I hope you know.”
Now or Never
“Now or Never” is about telling someone how you feel before it’s too late (before the world ends). It’s the second song that we wrote with Lynn. We all had so much fun writing “Say What You Want” together, so Lynn came back to the studio the next day to start a new song. We were honestly so excited about it and felt like these two writing sessions were some of the best that we’ve had so far.
This song started with the main guitar riff and the Hannah Montana-inspired drums. We knew we wanted to write an upbeat love song and immediately started throwing out melodies and lyrics. Even though the song sounds happy sonically, there’s still an element of urgency and uncertainty. “Now or never, ‘cause you know we don’t have forever. Under pressure. Are we really meant to be together?”
One of our favorite memories of this song is taking an acoustic guitar into the garage to work out melodies. We stood in a circle and sang together campfire style until we figured it out. The song fell into place after that and it only took a day to finish.
“Dead Ends” talks about mental health struggles. Some of us were feeling stuck in a rut and finding it difficult to break out, but we didn’t know how to put it into words at first. We had the full “Dead Ends” instrumental ready for months, but every version of the lyrics felt wrong. We were truly stumped for a long time. We just couldn’t figure out what we wanted to say.
The instrumental is so upbeat and fun, and we found ourselves stuck in a frustrating cycle of trying to write lyrics that matched the energy. We took a step back and realized that we don’t have to write happy lyrics if we’re not feeling happy. We love a good dance-while-you-cry moment, so we decided to write sadder lyrics over a happy instrumental.
The first lyric and melody we came up with ended up being “over and over and over and over” in the post-chorus. This was actually taken out of a completely different demo, but we felt like it suited this song better. The lyrics are simple, but they’re true.
We struggle a lot with pretending everything is okay, even though it’s really not. One of our favorite lines in the song is “I know it’s easier to pretend I’m not headed for a dead end,” which ended up inspiring the title.
All We Got
If the world ended tomorrow, how would you spend your last night? “All We Got” is about throwing one last party with your friends. We were listening to a lot of Fickle Friends at the time and were really inspired by them. The song started with a fun guitar riff that we brought to Cameron Walker-Wright of Twin XL, and we collaborated with him on melodies and lyrics.
When we were in high school, everyone was joking (or maybe even convinced) that the world was going to end in 2012. Most of us went to New Year’s parties and spent the last night of 2011 with friends, counting down to 2012, only to find that the world didn’t end. We took inspiration from that moment when we were writing the lyrics to this song. If the end of the world is inevitable, then we want to spend the last night with the people we love and care about.
The first lyrics we wrote were originally for the verse, but they later ended up being the pre-chorus instead. “All we got, all we got. We’re tryna fight the sun, but it just won’t stop.” If the world ends when the sun comes up, then we’ll try to delay it as long as possible to make this party last. “If this is really the end, go down with all of our friends. We’ll never be here again.”
“Golden” talks about wanting to live in the moment but being afraid of the inevitable ending. The song started with the shuffle beat and synths and was inspired by MUNA. It was originally meant to be an upbeat song, but we kept finding ourselves drawn toward sadder lyrics and slower melodies.
When we were writing this song, we thought a lot about being on tour and becoming close with the other artists, only to go back to our homes hundreds or thousands of miles away at the end. Once we finally get comfortable on the road and hit our momentum, it ends. Suddenly you’re back home, working your 9–5, and dreaming about the next time you’ll be on the road.
It’s hard to truly live in the moment or feel happy about something if the ending is always looming in the back of your mind, and we wanted to express this feeling in the chorus. “I try to live in the moment, I’m holding on tight. With every hello comes goodbye.”
Sometimes, we pretend to be okay and to be happy in the moment, even if we’re really not. “Pretend every day that I’m getting better. I numb all the pain but still feel the pressure.” We often try to hide it from the people around us, but it doesn’t work. “I try to deny it, but nobody buys it.”
No Good at Goodbyes
“No Good at Goodbyes” is about wishing you could meet someone in another life. We don’t know what happens after the world ends (if anything), but we’re hoping there’s a way to see this person again. When we were writing this song, we immediately knew it was going to be the album closer. Something about this song felt so final. Even though it wasn’t written last, the song ended up summarizing the entire album perfectly, and it’s one of our collective favorites.
We were experiencing writer’s block prior to working on this song. Most of us were starting to get burnt out, and we needed something to spark our creativity. We were working on a song with a guitar riff that just wasn’t doing it for us, but the progression wouldn’t leave our heads. We picked up an acoustic guitar and went back to the garage (just like “Now or Never”), playing around with the progression and some melodies. We were only in the garage for about five minutes, but we somehow left with the full chorus melody and lyrics. “Maybe I’ll meet you in the next life. Some place where everything is alright. Now feels like it might be the wrong time. I don’t even know why. I’m no good at goodbyes.”
The next day, we took the acoustic guitar outside and continued playing around with the lyrics and melodies. We walked around the studio’s backyard singing and recording voice memos until we finally landed on the verses. We immediately ran downstairs into the studio and got to work.
We love the acoustic element of this song. Even though the song builds and the electric guitars come in, the acoustic guitar never leaves and it adds a layer of emotion. There’s also a single arcade loop throughout most of the song that’s a little bit haunting and really sets the tone. Right before the second chorus, Glynnis sings “I’m no good at goodbyes,” and finally, the bass and live drums hit. It feels explosive, like the world is ending and all you can do is watch and hope that whatever’s next will be okay.
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© Sarah Mentus
:: Stream shallow pools ::