I’m undeniably opinionated when it comes to reality TV music competitions. So, when I first discovered Scarypoolparty through a coworker who saw Alejandro Aranda on American Idol, I was pleasantly surprised. An artist performing original music that had mild math rock vibes? Unheard of. And although Aranda didn’t win, this ultimately gave him a bit more creative freedom to put out more original music uninhibited. The NIN-tinged Exit Form dropped in 2019.
But Los Angeles is something different entirely—brighter, poppier, more commercial. It’s hard to not draw comparisons to The Weeknd, albeit with a bit less synthwave focus. But that’s not to say this is a bland rehash of top 40s. There’s a certain edge here—dare I say a bit of a DIY spirit. This EP straddles the line between grit and glamour in a way that’s compelling. If these songs made it on the radio, it’s reason to be excited for an artist who truly started at the bottom.
“Universe” kicks things off in full force. Rapid piano arpeggios are broken by boosted bass and guest vocals by nothing,nowhere. The production is undeniably solid, even if it seems to use a couple modern hip-hop clichés.
But after that, it’s all uphill. “Overdone” is upbeat and bright. Its rhythms are punchy. Aranda’s voice soars over crisp instrumental hooks with his falsetto floating effortlessly over the rest of the arrangement. Even though the lyrics are rife with disappointment, the general vibe is triumphant.
“Paradise” is the highlight track. I’m immediately reminded of Andrés with the mix of no-cares-given attitude and musical technicality. Both the drum and vocal rhythms are precise and keep things moving forward at top speed. Add in some electronic drum fills, tight synth riffs, and production nuances, and the end result is *chef’s kiss*.
Just like the EP began, the piano arpeggio returns to close out the EP (it’s a recurring motif on the other tracks, too). Here, Aranda, opts for a soulful lower vocal register. Even so, the chorus is still explosive. This might be the ballad of the bunch, but it’s still dense with layers.
It’s interesting to see how one single piano motif serves as the fulcrum for four very different tracks with disparate moods. Los Angeles is production-heavy and primed for radio. Aranda’s voice as usual is on point, and he employs a variety of techniques and styles across the EP’s runtime. “Universe” is maybe the weakest track of the bunch, but even so, it’s evident Aranda isn’t risk-averse.
Once again, Scarypoolparty manages to deliver a set of surprising tracks which build on Aranda’s musical prowess. He’s been releasing music at a relentless pace so far and doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon.