Pool Kids Makes Perfect Pop-Rock Songs About Living Online

Like most of us, Christine Goodwyne gets mad online from time to time. Unusually, though, the 27-year-old singer and guitarist of the up-and-coming band Pool Kids has channeled that feeling into a few great pop-rock songs. One of those songs is “Talk Too Much,” the anthemic centerpiece of the band’s self-titled second album, which came out last week; on it, Goodwyne manages to make a virtual argument actually sound fun. On a Tuesday night in June, she and her bandmates—guitarist Andy Anaya, drummer Caden Clinton, and bassist **Nicolette Alvarez—**played it during their show at the Bushwick venue Brooklyn Made, and with group cohesion and incredible musical chops, they got a crowd cheering and dancing to a song about online trolls.

We first met as she sat at the merch table afterward, wearing full early-2000s rock star garb and selling the band’s clever T-shirts and hats that she embroidered herself. A few weeks later, Goodwyne called me from the Chicago apartment she shares with Alvarez after finishing her day job in digital marketing. Wearing glasses and with her hair in a bun, Clark Kent to the onstage superhero, she explained exactly what it was about the internet that helped her channel that universal feeling of frustration.

“I go through all of these different emotions, and I just can’t come up with lyrics about them or how to say them without being so on the nose with them,” she said. “When I’m frustrated and pissed off at the way someone’s behaving themselves on Twitter, for some reason it just flows out of me—all the things I want to say to them. And [a song] is such a good way to say it without just tweeting back.”

She professed a love for TikTok and other social media platforms, and it seems like she is adept at integrating real life and online into her storytelling. One song on the album casually weaves a line about the frustration of being on a group chat with 21 people into a larger narrative about a strained relationship. “It can sound sarcastic, but I’m actually being genuine. I’m trying to say, ‘Listen, I do the same shit, and I’m trying to get better,’” she said. “That’s how I feel about a lot of the angry lyrics. I’m mad, but I also don’t hate you.”

By Kay Dargen.

So, in true emo tradition, Goodwyne writes wise and nimble lyrics about the things she sees around her, and then, with the help of her own considerable musicianship and her talented bandmates, matches them with rousing guitar licks and crashing percussion. The band started performing in 2017, and in July 2018, it released its debut album, Music to Practice Safe Sex To. It lit a slow fuse across the rock internet that eventually ignited when Hayley Williams of Paramore praised them to her 2 million Instagram followers the following April.

They’ve since acquired more influential boosters, like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, who told Stereogum that “they make really lovely music” and invited them to open on several of his tour dates in September. Goodwyne said she was honored even if she didn’t completely understand his choice. But their shared penchant for wordy, searching lyrics and songcraft makes the choice a very logical one.

The band’s jaw-dropping skill as musicians is on display the most when Goodwyne and Anaya trade extremely difficult, shredding guitar solos, standing close together and drawing energy off of each other. Goodwyne explained that while she and Anaya both started playing the guitar when they were young, Anaya has more natural skill than she does. (“It doesn’t take away from the fact that he practices a lot!” she hastened to add.)

Goodwyne picked up the instrument at 10 and taught herself a range of songs and advanced skills on YouTube. “I remember being super young and just seeing, like, a guitarist in a beer commercial ripping a solo and being like, That’s going to be me.” But she didn’t start writing songs or realize exactly how much she loved going onstage until she was in college. She said that the songs that wound up on the band’s debut album were some of the first ones she had ever written.

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