Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Matt Pond PA: The Green Fury

Singer-songwriter Matt Pond grew up in New Hampshire, but added a "PA" to the end of his name when he moved to Philadelphia a few years back, as a way of recognizing the reliable set of Pennsylvania musicians in his pop orchestra. The assemblage works in the mode of Amerindie fellow travelers Beulah and Lambchop, reworking Pond's songs through complex arrangements and studio treatments until they become balladic soundscapes, where strings and horns course through percussive guitar-and-drum constructions with the thickness and vitality of blood. Matt Pond PA's third album, The Green Fury, extends what the band began on 2000's magnificent Measure, casting cooling shadows behind fervid romantic characters. Pond's half-gulped, half-crooned vocals can be difficult to discern, but the intelligible parts paint an impressionistic portrait of lovers in lovely settings, either coming together or coming to terms with the differences that will pull them apart. Many sensitive young songwriters have dedicated their art to the obstacles that stymie relationships—so many, in fact, that the subject has become its own genre. It's music for moody intellectuals, and Matt Pond PA serves it up with a sweetness that's easy to swallow and a structural complexity that smartens up the mixture. The compact, textured pop of "Promise The Bite" and "Measure 3" are like distillations of the essence of Nick Drake or R.E.M., without the thorny personalities (or their attendant depth). The Green Fury makes no direct emotional appeals—it's too abstract and mannered—but the record offers a tasteful wallow in morose sentimentality, with gentle melodies enhanced by fashionable sonic affectation.

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