Matt Pond PA The Dark Leaves

Matt Pond PA The Dark Leaves
One of the flaws with The Dark Leaves, and with Matt Pond PA, generally, is how flawless it is. Like a swimmer in water-splitting Lycra, you end up only seeing the suit and not the person wearing it. Pond's songs paint soft hued impressions of life's small, desperate details and little victories, but they suffer from an overly glamorous studio polish that seals away their emotional heft. Or perhaps, more accurately, the production (by band member and multi-instrumentalist Chris Hansen) makes the album ready for network drama licensing. Songs like "Brooklyn Fawn" are typical, importing the small town "aw shucks" of pedal steel into a Starbucks-ian landscape. As well-crafted MOR albums go, this one has the right stuff, with unsettling glimpses of '80s AM fodder (Mr. Mister, the Hooters) paired with the residue of post-The O.C. indie cred. What it lacks is a convincing argument why it deserves to be added to your record collection. (Altitude)