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The Ponys - Turn Out The Lights

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Artist: The Ponys

Album: Turn Out The Lights

Label: Matador

Review date: Mar. 21, 2007

The Ponys’ singer Jered Gunmere seems determined to put those Richard Hell comparisons behind him. His occasionally wayward yelping from earlier records has been drowned by waves of echo. The band may have returned to Electrical Audio to record Turn Out The Lights, but from the sound of things they sent Steve Albini out to buy some Slim Jims and then padlocked the door for the rest of the session.

Also gone from earlier efforts are the occasional awkward bits that some have deemed “arty,” replaced by a streamlined attack with big drums and guitar parts that are both parsimonious and pumped up. Gunmere’s singing also tends towards the anthemic; the garage mantle never lay comfortably on their shoulders anyway, but now they sound ready for hockey arenas.

The quartet are still adroit thieves, but now they pinch from secondary rather than primary sources; the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Church, even U2 rather than Television, the Voidoids, or Joy Division. But they owe their biggest debts to Sonic Youth. Not the arch, difficult, challenging Sonic Youth that plays long solos and hangs out with Wolf Eyes, but the one that hangs a bit of noise on a monster hook and still reels the kids into the sheds.

Will this strategy land the Ponys a larger audience? Maybe; certainly “Maybe I’ll Try” has enough fist-pumping attitude, “Small Talk” enough vague and atmospheric yearning, “Double Vision” enough tight-pants swagger to procure them a place on some kid’s bedroom wall. But there’s not a lot behind the well-polished surfaces. This is a record for a season, not the ages.

By Bill Meyer

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