Ponys Turn The Lights Out

Chicago’s the Ponys have a lot to live up to on their Matador debut. Although they aren’t really indie household names yet, they have already been painted by much of the music press as one of the brave new hopes of rock. Though it might be a little premature to ask Jack and Meg to cede their thrones to this bunch, the Ponys demonstrate with Turn The Lights Out that they deserve, well, most of the hyperbolic reviews they receive. While their two previous records, Laced With Romance and Celebration Castle, were visceral, grimy feats of Farfisan garage punk, Turn finds the band maturing and cleaning up their act. The LP doesn’t quite have the same sweaty energy of its predecessors but it is much more subtly sculpted than either. The band have perfected their approach to hybridisation, pulling together and condensing their garage, proto-punk and shoegazer influences more tastefully than they ever have. Yes, everything may be drenched in a liberal dose of reverb but under all that fuzz are precise, cutting guitars propelled by a dense, assertive rhythm section. If that sounds like your idea of a good time then the first half of the album is virtually flawless — opener "Double Vision” and the smouldering "1209 Seminary” are the two best tracks on the LP. The second half doesn’t quite have the striking immediacy of the first but it is almost as consistent. That’s the beauty of the album — it can effortlessly and confidently go from a drugged out haze to three a.m. blues to fanged mating call without missing a beat. (Matador)