Matt Pond PA
Several Arrows Later (Altitude)
by Tim Den
Having reviewed every release for the past four years, become a fan in every sense of the word, and even shared the stage with ’em on several occasions, I wonder what else I can say to make people pay attention to this criminally underrated group. Perhaps pristine, sensibly-written songs are just not “cool”? Or is it cuz the world has grown deaf to melody, thanks to the popularity of garbage like mainstream hip-hop and garage rock? Whatever the case, Several Arrows Later is more of the trademark Matt Pond PA goodness: Delicate but not fragile hooks, airy but not ethereal production, ornate but not orchestral string accompaniment, all coming together around bulletproof tunes. There’s no fat nor excess, just tight arrangements surrounding great verses and choruses that result in a batch of good ol’ fashioned songs.
Some claim that Matt Pond PA have simply produced one chamber pop album after another, with “sensitive” acoustic musings at the never-changing center. More proof that people only pay attention to appearances. Though Several Arrows Later does contain strings, acoustic guitars, and gently sung vocals, it has a new momentum, courtesy of drummer Dan Crowell. He propels the proceedings with a strong (but never overbearing) backbone, adding just the right variation – like during the chorus of “It Is Safe” – to accentuate the emotions. The band apparently feeds off of his energy, because the “lazy Sunday morning” laid back vibe of the band’s previous efforts have been replaced here with a sublime alertness. When guitarist/vocalist (duh) Matt Pond sings “I heard it’s modern to be stupid/you don’t need to talk to look good” in opener “Halloween,” it still sounds as pretty as ever, but it’s obvious that this isn’t the same easy-going, happy-go-lucky-nature-loving frontman as heard on The Green Fury. Just cuz it sounds nice and soothing, doesn’t mean that there’s no turbulence beneath. The band have undergone subtle changes on Several Arrows Later, enough to give the album a sense of freshness, but still hidden enough to evade deaf morons who only recognize progress in hairstyles.
I, for one, continue to anticipate the band’s every release because there’s always such subtle progression. And, in the process, I get another dozen beautifully-written and played songs that’re head and shoulders above most people’s creativity level. Thank goodness, too, because I’ve just about barfed up all my insides from existing within this shithole we call “the modern music scene.”