Undersea Poem Undersea Poem

As Mosquitos, Chris Root and Juju Stulbach put together two albums of songs that owed a gigantic debt to Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sergio Mendes, creating a perfect summery soundtrack for any beach vacation. Jump forward five years and they've recruited a half-dozen other people to flesh out their sound and now go by the moniker Undersea Poem. Their self-titled debut is a strange little record that has a little bit of a split personality. Its most effective moments come from the songs that owe the biggest debt to the duo's previous band and shimmer with an Ipanema-esque glow, suggesting that while the name has changed, not much else has. Yet there is also the twang of a slide guitar on some songs, some sparse pop numbers and some rocking instrumentals. Sometimes it flows better than others, yet nothing sticks around long enough to completely ruin the tropical mood. The rate at which the songs come is a double-edged sword, as it definitely stops the missteps from being too problematic, but there are other moments that appear undeveloped, almost like a demo. Perhaps that was their intention all along: to create a series of vignettes that merely hint at different scenes. But it makes for a frustrating listen. They need to move further away from their obvious comfort zone before their next record or else they may as well have remained Mosquitos. (Six Degrees)