The Ponys Laced with Romance

[In the Red; 2004]

Styles: punk, garage rock, neu wave, post-punk, inside-a-barrel roots rock
Others: early Lords of the New Church, Zeros, Come Ons, Interpol, The Constantines

These Ponys: what they want, they want now. This young, loud, and snotty bunch sound like the band that would crash at your house (while on tour) and then proceed to steal your favorite rare soul records after you told them to help themselves to the orange juice and Cheerios. But they look like the pals you'd invite to mom and dad's house for dinner and Six Feet Under. Because, you know your broke ass can't afford HBO. At any rate, it's just this marriage of sass and substance that sets the Ponys apart from the other dime-a-dozen garage rock/new faces of rock & roll bands that the musicular powers-that-be want to cram down your throat.

Sure, bands like Blondie and the Undertones have long since mastered the art of the perfect two-minute, dirtied-up-and-sung-with-a-feck-all-sneer pop song. Motown beats, distorted guitars, and brash combo organs are nothing new, but the Ponys manage to put a fresh and smart spin on it. There's some depth to the songwriting here and the album is ripe with innovative production aspects, like a typewriter as percussion, flanged-out drums, Nugent-inspired back-masked cymbal swells (think "Stranglehold"), and more searing, meandering guitar solos than Richard Lloyd would shake his Telecaster at.

Specific highlights include the sinister urgency of "Looking Out A Mirror," which sounds like Magazine if Rat Scabies were the drummer; "I Love You ‘Cause (You Like Me)," which vocally resembles a garbled telephone conversation between Jonathan Richman and the singer from 999; and the mutant Misfits-esque lyrical fodder of "10 Fingers 11 Toes." So, hurry up and make the Ponys your new pleasure before NME discovers them and your hipster cred gets dashed once again.

1. Let's Kill Ourselves
2. 10 Fingers 11 Toes
3. Sad Eyes
4. Little Friends
5. Fall Inn
6. Looking Out A Mirror
7. Trouble Trouble
8. Chemical Imbalance
9. I'll Make You A Star
10. I Love You `Cause (You Look Like Me)
11. Virus Human
12. The Only One