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Matt Pond PA | Nature of Maps | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop
Matt Pond PA
The Nature of Maps (Polyvinyl)
by Tim Den
Unbelievably, Matt Pond PA have topped their 2001 release, the exquisite The Green Fury. The Nature of Maps contains the same delicate, shuffling chamber pop that brings to mind The Divine Comedy and Rachel's (without sounding like either band, despite sharing a band member with the latter group), but the songs are stronger this time. A bit more upbeat, as well as much more effortlessly flowing. Guitarist/vocalist Matt Pond's almost-out-of-breath-and-crying serenades (think a steadier Robert Smith) make songs like "Fairlee," "Closer," and (my fave) "Summer Is Coming" dangerously addictive as they etch themselves into your vocabulary.
With two cellists in the band and an assortment of outside players tinkling violins, banjo, harp, and such, The Nature of Maps still manages to retain a sort of earthiness in its melodies. Maybe it's Pond's use of evocative chord changes, but most of the songs here sound like soundtracks to a Fall drive in the New England countryside. When not painting pictures of brown leaves and crisp air, songs like "New Kehoe NJ" and "A Million Middle FIngers" try out fuzz pop and Joy Electric/Starflyer 59 (respectively) quickies for nice changes of pace.
But though the album portrays Matt Pond PA as extraordinarily well-constructed melodists, it's in the live setting that the band's power truly comes out. The cello lines pull you like a puppet this way and that, while Pond's voice and acoustic guitar strike you like love at first sight (or sound). The carefully crafted arrangements become living, breathing things in front of you, cradling all your emotions with dizzying beauty. This is what pop should be: Resonating your deepest emotions in an ocean of orchestral peaks and valleys. Jump into the whirlpool.
(PO Box 7140 Champaign, IL 61826)