Recording information: Chateau Marouatte, France; Comet, Los Angeles, CA; Sharmaji Studios, New York, NY; Studio Edison, Los Angeles, CA; The Bamboo Forest, Los Feliz, CA; The Rib Cage, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: John Tsiavis.
Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes achieved acclaim with the full-tilt retro-soul of Baby Caught the Bus. Released in late 2011 and awarded album of the year by ABC Radio National, its effect was largely due to Clairanne Browne. The group's bold and fun-loving frontperson clearly impressed RuPaul and Paul Kelly, two radically different figures who sought her for collaborations. Along the way, Browne met Amanda Warner (aka MNDR), a songwriter, producer, and recording artist known most for contributing to Mark Ronson's Top Ten U.K. pop hit "Bang Bang Bang," as well as recordings by Kylie Minogue, Rita Ora, and Charli XCX. Browne and Warner, along with Rob Kleiner, Peter Wade Keusch, and a handful of additional associates, recorded Pool with mainstream pop success as the goal. Pool isn't likely to please those who loved Caught by the Bus primarily for its vintage sound. Some of the throwback touches here do recall '60s rhythm & blues, though none of them sound made for a museum exhibit, and the stylistic scope is widened to incorporate '70s disco-funk and contemporary pop. Browne's voice is left front and center, not once cloaked in the amount of reverb heard on the Rackettes material. She cited Beyoncé as an inspiration, yet Pool is somewhere between Solange's Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams and Fergie's The Dutchess, full of bawdy ebullience and silly pop-culture references. Some of the affectations -- "West Coast is the best coast, I be rollin' with my homies," replete with G-funk whistle, for instance -- verge on noxious, but they're offset with some depth, like the offhanded kiss-off "F.U.B." and the sad ballad "Spiral," the latter an odd close to an otherwise sunny, frolicsome album that befits its title. ~ Andy Kellman