Neither a reference to the New York Police Commissioner, nor a New Year Party Committee, NYPC is actually the new name for New Young Pony Club, who you may remember for their hit single Ice Cream and being part of the nascent ‘nu-rave’ moment back in 2007, alongside bands such as Klaxons and CSS.
Rather like the aforementioned Klaxons and CSS, NYPC have struggled to follow up on their early success. Their second album, The Optimist, almost seemed like a reaction to the day-glo fun of their debut, and the results left listeners feeling a bit befuddled.
Now, three years on, it’s time to start all over again, with a new name and stripped down to just the two original band members, Tahita Bulmer and Andy Spence. In one respect, it’s a canny move: female-fronted synth pop is all the rage right now, with the likes of Chvrches and AlunaGeorge riding high, but sadly much of this album feels neither like a fresh start nor a replica of past glories.
The trouble is, essentially, a lack of killer tunes. Opening track Hard Knocks is a good start, even if it is rather stymied by lyrics like “waiting for hard knocks, school of, I think you are” but there’s a grimy synth sound which bodes well for the rest of the album. Things You Like is also excellent, with Spence and Bulmer’s vocals blending nicely, and a bouncy, insistent chorus.
However, there are also large swatches of NYPC which just drift by, in a mediocre haze. There’s nothing particularly bad about tracks like I Came Through For You, Now I’m Your Gun and Play Hard, but there’s nothing to really love about them. They just sound like every other middling synth-pop band out there with nothing to really stand out from the crowd. Overtime does skip nicely along, but it’s only on the coda to Everything Is, where a mass of steel drums burst the song into life, that the album really feels vital and exciting.
Bulmer’s curiously flat vocals doesn’t really help matters either – whereas before she would sparkle and sound full of life, now the deadpan delivery just sounds bored and indifferent. While the predominately mid-tempo pace suits this sometimes, it would be nice to hear some injection of passion at times, as the 10 tracks on NYPC seem to last an awful long time.
Ultimately, NYPC are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. Attempts to write another Ice Cream would sound dated, but any attempt to move on has to show something a bit different. This album treads a strange line between the two, and so instead of joining the new kids at the party, they’re in danger of just pressing their noses up against the glass.