Often, pop music conjures images of songs so straight and crisp, so under control, that it cannot be classified otherwise. That's why it's so rare when wild, reckless music is considered "pop" no matter how memorable the melody, and perhaps why dubbing Puddle Splasher's first full-length a "rock" record seems insufficient. Indeed, Separate States feels like a proper pop record, with melodies that loop lazily around the listener-that is, until the buzzing chords and plodding drums complicate the designation. This division is illustrated nicely in opener "Summer Sigh," as well as on "Decent Thoughts," a song whose clean, electric chords mimic an acoustic's sticky jingle-and whose choruses smolder with almost aggressively fuzzy guitars. In fact, for every murky, stomping monster (like "Not a Word," on which singer and guitarist Andy Altadonna howls the lyrics like a lonely wolf), lighter tracks speckle the record, like the breezy "No Leaves," with it's airy organ and tempo, or the sun-streaked "I'm Hurting Me." The songs on Separate States seem to display two distinct concepts at once: Rock music that's thick and rich, and pop music so light and simple, so accessible, that it's weight seems somehow weightless. And, perhaps, it's this themes that reveals the most meaningful secret to Puddle Splasher's sound: That which appears separated is always closer than it seems. It's why rock music can never be pop, and why the best rock music can be nothing but.