Pony Up! Stay Gold

Hopefully this doesn't ruin The Outsiders for you but "nothing gold can stay," not even Ponyboy. Robert Frost knew it and so too do Pony Up! Like SE Hinton's novel, the fantastically titled Stay Gold brims with darkness, existential questioning and movement. Produced by the Dears' Murray Lightburn, the disc is austere but never glossy, which serves its deceptively bleak lyrics and oft hopeful sounds well. The vocal line in "A Crutch or a Cradle" sticks like crazy glue, although the sonic backdrop is sonorous enough to temper any sweetness. It encapsulates the record's primary attribute: contradiction. "Making More Beneath" stacks on its components, beginning with darkly fatalist words swathed in jaunty guitar and growing into an apropos yell. Touchstones include Rainer Maria, "Fort (Made of Beds)," Sunny Day real Estate ("Manchild") and even Kimya Dawson ("A Crutch or a Cradle"), although none are very striking or complete. Instead, it's an enchanting, original album full of contrasts, eloquence and way more hooks than the average literary class battle. (Pony Up!)