Matt Pond PA – If You Want Blood

Music — By on July 30, 2007 at 12:00 am

When an independent band has been pumping out records for nearly ten years, strife is bound to accompany occasions of transition (see also Velvet Teen, Q and Not U). In the last few years, Matt Pond and his cronies have strained through countless broken-down vans, the loss of multiple band members, scathing reviews (ahem), and probably much more that is unbeknownst to this simpleton from the Left Coast. These boys and girl seem to have been through the ringer, and yet continually seek positive attitudes and positively the finest music. Their recent EP is the first release since their exceptional full-length Several Arrows Later, which confirmed that despite the bumps and fractures, MPPA is still standing valiant.
Transition. This new EP marks somewhat of an “after-thought” to MPPA’s recent overhaul of adjustment. With a(nother) recent musician replacement, If You Want Blood serves as the interval between Several Arrows Later and a full length to release in the fall (Last Light). It opens with “Reading,” a spirited continuation from the previous full-length: although a bit redundant, the progressive chords and animated melody are a warm introduction. “Magic Boyfriend” increases the album’s buoyancy with its stippling banjo and twangy guitar hooks. Matt’s vocals shine here, and the overall song (although only under 2.5 minutes, with an abrupt end) shows MPPA expanding their boundaries.
Transition. An abrupt swing from the engagingly poppy “Magic Boyfriend,” “Everything Until the East Coast Ends” unfolds to Matt’s repetitious lyrics being sustained by meandering feedback and keyboard. Any expectations for further development are dashed by the prolonged end (the song is over 5.5 minutes). Pretty soon into “If You Live,” the listener is reminded that the newest cello player hasn’t yet gotten the boot. Matt’s vocals are certainly weakest in this song, and instrumentation doesn’t progress very far. The concluding title track offers a final burst of energy with a bold pulse and soothingly subdued verses; this seems to be how MPPA operates best. Overall the album builds a bit, staggers significantly, and then tries in the end to recover its composure. The clever album cover, with its simple beauty that I just adore, functions as a façade for music that is regrettably unsurprising (see also Efterklang’s latest EP).
Transition. The process of continually reorienting our experience to ongoing adaptation can be offsetting (yet necessary for growth). My wife and I are preparing ourselves for a move across these seemingly vast fifty states. We are shredding our identities as Northwesterners and applying the new Northeastern front. I’d like to think that listening to Matt Pond over the past few years has prepared me for the environmental shift to the Right Coast, but that would over-simplify its character. Sadly, Matt Pond’s newest EP probably won’t find its way into our road-trip music collection (however, Damien Jurado’s newest definitely will).


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