The nature of MATT POND PA
Those 4 of you out there who visited my previous blog ("A Revolution in Getting Sleepy") before I figured out what the hell I was doing will probably recognize the majority of this post. That's because I wanted my first post ever to be about the under-appreciated genius of the music of Matt Pond PA. While you may have already read most of this review, I'm throwing on a bunch of extra tracks that I didn't include in that initial write-up.
I once wrote a review of Rogue Wave's debut album where I talked about how getting a promo CD from a record label can sometimes be a tricky thing. Sometimes, if an album is too good or hits too close to home, you catch yourself thinking, "This can't be this good. I'm being suckered." I remember getting Matt Pond PA's THE GREEN FURY in my PO Box in Hockessin, Delaware. I was working at a Direct Mail advertising agency, doing the corporate devil's work while writing a music column for a suburban Philadelphia newspaper on the side. Pond's label, Polyvinyl, sent me the disc without my even asking. It just showed up.
I was immediately floored. I brought the disc back inside the office with me and spent the whole day listening to it while slugging away at a credit card ad (and my own mortality).
A few weeks later, my company mercifully laid off a good chunk of its staff (myself included) and at the same time, a girl I thought I was falling in love with disappeared from my life. Trust me, it's a long story. My friend's dad died. My dad had a mild heart attack. It was not a good year.
This itsy bitsy review is a shard of what I owe Matt Pond and his excellent band for making THE GREEN FURY. I listened to that CD so much that I could hear it in my head when there was no music. Check out every single thing about "A New Part of Town". The production, done -- I'm guessing -- on the cheap (it's not like they're working with Justin Timberlake's budget), is lush and complex. Every single instrument on this track, down to the cymbals, has its own sensibility. Pond's vocals killed me, and if I've ever felt like the "ghost of the ghost" in my life, it was that winter. "Promise the Bite" is also from THE GREEN FURY, and has some of the best string work on the album.
The most amazing thing is that in the same year, Pond followed the flawless FURY with another gorgeous and pristine album called THE NATURE OF MAPS. I'm forever torn between deciding which of these two records is the better one. The album opens with "Fairlee", a thrilling burst of orchestral bombast akin to Rufus Wainwright's "Beautiful Child." (More on Rufus, and that track, in a later post.) For the rarity seeker, I'm also including the Jackson remix of "Fairlee", available on one of the band's tour-only CDs.
Picking out a favorite on MAPS is virtually impossible. There's "No More", with its intricate instrumental patterns and urgent vocals. And don't you just love that little reggae guitar that comes in and out?
Then you've got the upbeat "Promise the Party", and the absolutely epic "Summer is Coming". The latter track is a perfectly distilled 4.5 minutes of what this band sounds like. I love when that fuzzy bass line groans its way into the beginning of the song, and the sound of those military drums making the song chug along.
Closing off this entry is "Red Ankles", a song from a more recent release, the band's FOUR SONGS EP. Along with this great EP, the band's last album EMBLEMS is also amazing. And, they'll have a new EP coming out in a couple of weeks which features a few new tracks and some covers (including a cover of Lindsay Buckingham's "Holiday Road"... you may remember it as the song that ends "National Lampoon's Vacation").
If you like any of the sounds you've heard here, I beg you to support this band in any way possible. Buy a t-shirt. See them live. Buy every single song they've put out, because they're all pretty damned good.
For more on Matt Pond PA:
Recent news on the band being featured on THE OC
Audible, featuring former MPPA members