• pony up! Make Love to the Judges With Your Eyes (CD, £10.25)

    label: laughing outlaw

    REVIEW FROM THE LINE OF BEST FIT Hailing from the indie world babylon that is Montreal, Canada (see, The Dears, Stars, Malajube and of course Arcade Fire) Pony Up! have been doing the rounds since 2002. Relatively unknown here in the UK the four piece originally released their debut album Make Love To The Judges With Your Eyes last year in their native Canada, whilst last month saw it released here in the UK via Laughing Oulaw records. On reading the press release attached with the album, I was instantly intrigued by what was contained on the shiny disc. For a start, the studio personal involved in the recording have previously worked with Arcade Fire, Wilco, Wolf Parade and Beck. That’s enough to get anyone excited surely, added with the fact that Pony Up! are, in fact, an all girl band (and lets face it, indie chicks with guitars rule) was an instant bonus. So what do they sound like? Well, nothing like the previous mentioned artists that’s for sure. Pony Up! come across more like a Riot grrrl group of the nineties albeit a far more restrained version. Think Sleater Kinney circa The Woods but with the layers of distortion stripped away, leaving a cleaner, purer sound but still retaining the great pop sensibility and ear for a decent hook and melody that made Sleater Kinney such a great band. It almost sounds as if these songs were recorded at home, in their bedroom. There is an amateurish quality attached to the recordings, not in a bad way I hasten to add. If anything the slight shifts in tempo and scratchy guitars only add to the intimacy of the eleven tracks. When listening on headphones it feels as though you’re in the same room as them, a fly on the wall almost. The opening trio “Dance For Me”, (the fantastic single) “The Truth About Cats And Dogs” and “Possible Harm” set the scene perfectly. Danceable indie pop with emotional and biographical(?) love-lorn lyrics fill your head whilst the backing harmonies warm your heart. Things slow down a little for “The Best Offence” and the Parisian sounding “Only Feelgood” and it’s here that the cracks start to appear. The melodies, as pretty as they are, soon begin to merge into one - the heights of previously mentioned “Truth About Cats…” never being reached again. Unfortunately, the fact that everything starts sounding so similar also means that you start looking at the clock. Even though the eleven tracks here only weigh in at a little over 47 minutes, once three quarters into the record you almost feel as if you’ve been listening to it for hours. This is my main complaint, if they could have only shaved off a chorus here, a verse there, the resulting record would have been ten times as punchy, and more importantly enjoyable. This is not to say the remaining songs are bad by any means. There are still some fantastic moments here, most notably on the final two songs which sees guitarist Sarah Moundroukas make a (by now welcome) reach for the distortion pedal. “Make, Model, #” and “Lines Bleed”. The former sees the girls strike a more aggresive pose (it suits them), the latter sounding like a long lost Death Cab For Cutie track, a real highlight. So, although flawed, this is still an impressive debut that will delight many a fan of catchy indie pop. Next time around though, if they can manage to keep the track times shorter the final output will no doubt be a whole lot sweeter (sorry about that) and easier to digest in one sitting. Like my Dad always used to tell me, “It’s not the size that matters, it’s what you do with it…”. 70%

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