The Ponys - Turn the Lights Out (Cover Artwork)

The Ponys

Turn the Lights Out (2007)


The Ponys are often lumped into the garage rock scene and often considered one of the finer young bands making rock music today. Yet, on their 2007 album, Turn the Lights Out, this is not an accurate description of their sound. Instead, a more plausible description of the Ponys is a band that is still struggling to find its identity amiss all the Sonic Youth-like fuzz, punk-style vocals and noise pop melodies. It is a shame, because there seems to be a unique voice crying out for something better amongst the rattle of post-punk revivalists, a band that wants to find their own niche amongst these modern groups. Instead they fall into a clique more often than not.

It starts out very well-constructed with "Double Vision," which also, unfortunately, rises above the rest of the album so much that once the second song starts, you are wondering if they just somewhat gave up. "Double Vision" is a grand statement of what makes them work beautifully, at least, when they do work -- it memorably features opening cymbal hits that turn into a pedal stomp surrounded with acutely strewn about melodic guitar chime, barely audible bass and that vocal, which shifts from a mellow indie rock-inspired singsong into a throaty punk-like sneer. It makes it equal parts gorgeous and rebellious, danceable and soothing -- much like the pop-melody-flooded-with-noise of the Jesus and Mary Chain's Darklands-era without the lean towards the diabolical, or like the Cure in their The Head on the Door mode, just with more feedback.

Now, if they took those parts and ran with it, it would have been great. Instead, much of the rest of the album seems to be made up of atypically modern songs and rambling, fractured and fragmented ideas; they either have a running time of too long or too short. As the second song, the rave-up "Everyday Weapon" is a shade over two minutes and still manages to go over its bedtime at about the 1:35 mark, it still continues to bash, not play. That song, along with another snot-throated vocal track, "Maybe I'll Try," are two of the songs that for this reason have the most pure punk-inspired spirit in them. Problem is, they have the essence, but not the drive or the heart -- yet, are still exciting enough that it keeps the flow going, unlike the yawny title track and the sleepy dream, pop/shoegaze-inspired "Kingdom of Hearts."

The rest of the songs really do fall into these two general and opposite spectrums: fun, familiar sounding quickie tracks ("Exile on Main Street," "Poser Psychotic") and misguided lengthier ones ("Pickpocket Song," "Shine," "Small Talk"). The other track that stands out, other than the aforementioned "Double Vision," is a song that does not get much recognition. That song is "Harakiri," a song that is driven by a cool-as-hell bassline with squalls of guitar feedback and the vocalist once again in slick, cool-voiced indie rock mold.

When the album concludes with "Pickpocket Song"'s final fuzzy washes, it's a entertaining blunder of an album, something that has a few great moments but sadly seems to feel that if something is not broke, why fix it. Yet, sadly, change can be good, as sameness is conformity, and resistance. As evident on Turn the Lights Out, the Ponys do not yet know growth, but someday they may, and when they do, they will probably be immaculate.