As a longtime fan of Ian Pooley I was excited by the prospect of a new artist album – after all it’s been 5 years since the excellent Since Then. During those 5 years, downtempo and soulful house with Latin flavours have exploded in popularity with more and more recognition being given to proponents of the genres. As with any musical genre that sees commercial success, the amount of imitators and bandwagon-jumpers start to outnumber those who push the genre forward with original and quality production. With the release of Souvenirs, I’m loathe to say that the distance between Pooley as an innovative figure, and the flock of imitators has lessened.
Souvenirs is a mixed bag that by turns demonstrates why Pooley is as revered as he is, but also reveals moments of mediocrity with tracks that are better suited to interchangeable “summer house” compilations. In the latter category belongs “
Hotel Boogie”, a disco-flavored elevator house song additionally marred by Terry Callier’s wavering, loungey vocals. “All About You” and “Heaven” are enjoyable but similarly anonymous slices of disco-house.
Tracks more worthy of the Pooley name are the more intricately produced, and sonically satisfying “
Here We Go” and “Bony Batacuda”; the latter simmering with a percussion-heavy beat while “Here We Go” subtly builds over a wickedly solid house thump, both in combination with radiant melodies. The downtempo flavor of “Stonyridge Terrace” delivers with an array of instrumentation over a slinky beat and sparse vocals to conjure up a seductive mood. “Distant Love” is an emotive mid-tempo track effectively utilizing live horns to complement vocalists’ Jade and Danielle’s smoky tones.
Souvenirs is not a bad album but it lacks the consistency and distinction that usually typifies a Pooley release. While some tracks would sound at home on compilations, it’s this assimilative quality that makes it disappointing. The highlights are excellent but after such a long hiatus one would expect the filler to have been weeded out. Will the real Mr. Pooley please stand up?