Ian Pooley: What I Do
Pooled Music

Ian Pooley's fifth album, What I Do, arrives a full half-decade after his previous one, 2008's In Other Words, a move that might suggest the new collection will be an over-produced and overly ponderous affair. In fact, for the project (issued on his own Pooledmusic imprint) Pooley opted to work in a raw and spontaneous manner that recalled production methods used at the beginning of his career in the ‘90s. All fifteen of the tracks' sounds were created and programmed on analog gear, and Pooley tried to limit himself to two to three machines on each track. What results is a collection of clubby house music and songs heavy on melody and groove.

The album isn't overloaded with guests as only two appear: Dominique Keegan adds an entrancing vocal to the enticing club jam “Bring Me Up” (its percolating bass lines and creamy synth parts as central to the track as the vocal), and Högni Egilsson adds his vocals to the decent but comparatively less captivating “1983.” Pooley's ear for hooks comes most fully to the fore during “Kids Play,” a song-styled track that overlays an infectious funk groove with a vocal chorus that instantly nails itself into one's cranium. Pooley draws on timeless techno and house traditions for “Tale of the Big City,” a sleek and polished riff on club music suffused with a trance glow. What I Do opens strongly—swathed in synths, “Swing Mode” gets the album moving with a muscular, bass-prodded rouser that makes good on its title, and, goosed by soulful vocal interjections, “I Got You” digs into its funky house groove with no small amount of passion—but, as the album progresses, the appearance of a small number of lesser tracks dilutes its impact.

Pooley's definitely got a talent for elevating his groove-powered tracks with tasty hooks and rendering the material more memorable in the process. Consequently, a track such as “Kids Play” lodges itself in memory long after the album's over. But while there are many strong moments, there are some that are less so. Emblazoned with funk bass pops and chirping vocals, the repetitive title track sounds like some primitive house track exhumed from the ‘80s. Furthermore, What I Do is overlong and could have done with some judicious pruning—eighty-one minutes is about twenty minutes longer than the album needs to be. Take out the unnecessary intro (“Tale of Big City (Intro)”), “Get It On (Pt.1)” and “Get It On (Pt.2)” (slow-motion interludes of hip-hop filler), and the atmospheric jams “What U Love” and “I Should Be Sleeping” and you've already got a release that's eighteen minutes slimmer.

March 2013