What if a band could refine the best bits of Sleater Kinney (well, maybe not refine it but just take it – that reigned kind of raucousness) and the more poetic elements of acoustic rock. Furthermore, what if a band did it without sounding one iota like KT Tunstall? How good could that be?
It’s so easy these days to take and borrow from Pop’s glittering past and come up with a sum mixture of dreary, prosaic commercial rock, and life’s just too short. Welcome then, Montreal’s Pony Up, who seem to be an amalgam of all that’s noble, grand and poetic.
It’s not often a rock album has wrapped itself around me and refused to let go over the last couple of years, and unless I’m mistaken in my ivory tower really good indie-rock / riot grrrl bands have been thin on the ground, but Pony Up really do adopt the sound with a slithering, sultry, emotional grace.
Make Love to the Judges With your Eyes is little short of an ace album, the plaintive, slow—burning, piano-driven opening of Dance for Me stretching out into the kind of broad and easy melodies that will underpin the majority of the songs. Pony Up are often content to let their tracks amble in downbeat and lovesick lyricism, subtle recorder parps and tempered drumbeats floating in the background like ghosts, and Ships is a brilliant example of the reined-in kind of passion they generally conjure. But in between come the tempo changes that really shoot the LP to the stars.
Emerging from the laconic cool and lyrical passion in sudden spurts of terrific rhythm and shimmer, the likes of The Truth About Cats And Dogs (Is That They Die), Possible Harm, What’s Free is Yours, and Make, Model are enthralling, staccato rhythm guitar leading the way with of the melodic/poetic armoury following over the hill in such a silky and uplifting manner.
Pop is defined by great moments, and when Cats And Dogs lifts off into its flying, pleading vocal crescendo the pulse goes right with, it only coming back to earth with the natural fade, and Only Feelgood is the possibly the best of both Pony Up worlds in sounding like Sleater Kinney covering Weezer. Rock rarely comes in more exciting or sultry forms than this, and their short UK tour in November should be something to jump on like your life depends on it.