Earlier in the year, matt pond PA released the five-song EP, If You Want Blood, as a precursor to his upcoming full length. At the time, I gave it a good review. It was just the kind of light indie rock needed to alleviate the stresses of a sweltering summer. I looked forward to his new release, and so when I describe Last Light as an inferior work, I do so with great disappointment.
The EP was short and subtly varied enough to be an enjoyable distraction. However, on a longer record, it becomes abundantly clear that such nuances are incapable of sustaining the same level of interest. An album that is charming at twenty minutes becomes stale after the forty-five minutes marker when the same formula is repeated. That’s not a condemnation, just a description of Matt Pond’s brand of college rock. It is, for the lack of a better word, pleasant. It’s just also a little bland.
Although the songs on If You Want Blood and Last Light are different (with the exception of a shorter, retooled version of “When the East Coast Ends”), it feels like there are no new materials available on the full length. If You Want Blood was supposed to be a preview, possibly an indicator of greater things; instead, it’s a snappy summary.
Still, Last Light contains some well-crafted hooks. Pond’s pop melodies, rich guitars and somewhat clever lines will captivate some listeners. On the duet with Neko Case, “Taught to Look Away”, Matt Pond touches upon wistful sentiments backed by a country-influenced sound. “Sunlight” bounces with joyful rhythm and it’s hard not to feel for Matt Pond when he sings, “I wish you would say / when I fuck up that it’s okay.”
However, it’s doubtful that these scattered gems are enough to satisfy the discriminating listener.