I first encountered British electronic group New Young Pony Club in an online mix with a track called Ice Cream, and the insanely seductive glamour of the track made me fall in love. I knew they would be a new favourite, and I absolutely had to check out their other albums, so why not start with the album named after the group to get their core sound?
The first track of NYPC, Heavy Knocks, kicks off with a popping, plucking pumping beat and intense chanting vocals that have a kind of punk energy reminiscent of "Ring Road" by Underworld. I would definitely run to this track as it has a lot of energy and rhythm while still being very chill and focused. I feel like it was a good track to set the mood for the album.
Unfortunately Sure As The Sun takes a bit of a step back from a great beginning. The rhythm and bouquet of sound (such as bongos, the zurna) is very stereotypically exotic, which ends up feeling very contrived. The vocals still have that wonderful dark, seductive quality, but I feel like this track is really trying too hard to come off as foreign and mysterious.
Things Like You has a delightful harp-like sound that I love, and a very ambient vibe while still retaining a sense of movement. The vocals are less dark than the prior tracks, more melodic, contemplative and crooning. If anything, this dreamy track is the most distinctive of the bunch, melding a distinctly indie sound with something somewhat punk, folk, and classic rock.
Now I'm Your Gun is the music that goes with smoky grey eye shadow. It begins with a lonely, echoing harmonica, and an incredibly funky beat, and discoey synth. The vocals of this track are really the crown of it though: sultry, dramatic, and sexy. The mystery and glamour of this track is overwhelming, like one of the divas from a James Bond film.
I Came Through For You begins in a distant spacey soundscape, and punctuates the emptiness with a barking, echoey synth. The vocals are sensual and sombre. Gradually the track becomes almost hallucinogenic, conveying the disorientation, distress, and heartbreak along excellent lyrics like "You arrange yourself like flowers bought for someone else and pressed between the pages of your heart". This track manages to be melancholy but danceable. If you ever need a track to dance out bad feelings, this is certainly a winner.
Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure You Used To Be A Man is about someone who fails to live up to gender norms, rather than a song that gives a voice to transgendered people, but on the bright side it does have a bouncy base and plucking 80s rhythm. But unfortunately the crisp, wailing vocals do not redeem this song. It's actually fairly repetitive and there is nothing much to it, so I found it somewhat disappointing.
Overtime is what I suppose you might call a love ballad. It has a very nautical accordion, and retro, distorted guitar. The pipe organ, kick and snare beat, climbing notes, and brass give this track a very retro vibe. If you like sentimental love ballads, then this might be your idea of a good time.
Play Hard gets back to an edgier, darker sound with lots of word play reminiscent of Emily Haines' work. The beat has a great kick, and there is a nice distorted guitar. This track, like many others on this album, are good for setting a very hip, indie, haunting, sulky ambiance, but it is not really the kind of track that grabs your attention with anything really unique. This would probably be a good track for driving around at night.
If you are looking for a song that sound like they used an Atari 2600 as an instrument, Everything is might be the track you are looking for. Aside from this, it is really not that unlike anything else on the album, so here come the same adjectives I have used to describe every other song: sexy, crooning, dark, contemplative, echoing, ambient. The track eventually gets a bit tropical with some steel drum, and the refrain "Everything is everything" is about as uncreative, pseudo-intellectual, and pretentious as it could be. Really, it's not a bad track, but in the context of the entire album it feels repetitive. While there is certainly a theme here, some variety would really help.
L.O.V.E. is the final track, but I am feeling anything but love for this one. Not only is it the same crooning vocals, but it has a plodding pace and an obnoxious buzzing synth. Is this track supposed to be sad? Is it supposed to be sexy? Maybe it is supposed to be numb, because it feels incredibly half-hearted. It really was an unfortunate ending to an album that should have ended four tracks ago.
To be fair, each track on its own is fairly pleasurable: edgy, hip, a little dark and certainly seductive, but all this is lost in the context of an entire album that takes on that tone. As tracks get more and more repetitive what originally sounds fresh becomes tired and formulaic. I'm definitely going to continue listening to New Young Pony Club, but only in moderation, so I can feel the full impact of their best tracks.