The all girl Canadian line-up Pony Up delivers again on their second full-length player, Stay Gold.
Packing quite a punch, the girls don’t fail to kick up the dirt on partners, young loves and anyone else that may stray across their path. There’s a well-entrenched cynicism that underlies the entire album and sweeps it along at a frighteningly catchy pace. Maybe us girls are all in need of a hero sometimes, but I found it hard not to listen to this album and feel somewhat empowered. (Terribly feminist of me, I know).
On first impression, the record plays out alarmingly similar to Rilo Kiley’s earlier stuff – particularly those tracks fronted by Jenny Lewis. Not surprisingly then, the lush pop arrangements on Stay Gold swell with similar spot on vocal harmonies that often tend to compete rather than supplement each other, whilst still working to great effect. Even though similar stuff has been done before, Pony Up delivers their second record with a raw, garage-like aesthetic that refrains from sugar coating those lessons that we should have learnt in hindsight.
Right form the start there’s this priceless ‘fuck you’ attitude that points a big grungy finger towards the trials and tribulations of youth, naivety and the coming of age.
First track Manchild begins interestingly enough but eventually settles into a more predictable vocal pattern after the first verse, only to lead into a pure gold bridge, then back to a pretty average chorus to lead out.
In contrast, you can see why A Crutch or a Cradle fell victim to early leakage on the net. I never could have imagined the words “I love to bully you” could sound so sweet. This coupled with the longer-than-actual static break up on the track, makes it an absolute killer in my eyes.
Making More Beneath bops along in a kind of alt country fashion, whilst Charles is definitely more of an indie dance-a-long kind of track.
Fort (Made out of Bedsheets) and Sounds Like my Wedding Night slow the pace of the album a little, the former showcasing Pony Up’s tendency towards slightly darker imagery and the latter stripping back the metaphors for a less shrouded address of a subject – both approaches proving equally effective for the group.
Bastard Children displays a kind of dissatisfaction with small-town, simple life – “the only car you’ve ever owned was yellow” – as well as introducing a chorus appropriated, rather eerily, from the Sesame Street theme song (a fact I hadn’t picked up on till I read it in the lyric sheet.) Storyteller is unfortunately a bit of a no-show on the record, lacking the musical punch or the lyrical complexity of the other tracks but Two Square Feet seems to pick up some slack and tie the thing together in quite a neat little package.
I’ll probably be the first to admit that often there’s a lot more imagery going on than I can fully comprehend at once. Regardless, with the instrumentals on the album pretty straightforward it leaves a lot of room to appreciate writing that may have otherwise slipped under the radar with a larger degree of musical complexity.
It’s still as good a pick-me-up as any.