Release Date: May 4, 2010
Record label: Pias America
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
One of my favourite books, among a group of others, I assure you, not entirely concerned with death, is Cormac McCarthy’s beautifully written The Road. There are a variety of reasons for this, among them impeccable narration, interesting themes, and a personal, peculiar fascination for anything morose, but, at the end of the day, it’s mostly due to the fact that he doesn’t give a flying fuck about me. Allow me to explain.
By the time New Young Pony Club’s second album, The Optimist, finally hit retailers in 2010, some pretty drastic changes had occurred. The band was no longer with Modular Records, it was basically down to a duo of vocalist Tahita Bulmer and multi-instrumentalist Andy Spence (though drummer Sarah Jones and keyboardist Lou Hayter do make cameo appearances), and most importantly, the adolescent swagger and goofiness of early songs like "Ice Cream" and "Jerk Me" had been replaced with a more subdued and adult feel. There is still plenty of spunk and snarl in Bulmer’s vocals, lots of angular funk in the rhythms, and more than enough hooks to go around, only this time there is a slick, studio-generated sheen on top of everything.
My, my, my. How the comedown from new rave has endured. For the alumni of the scene showcased on NME Indie Rave Tour in 2007, the following years have not been kind. Leeds's The Sunshine Underground, the runt of the tour's litter, released their second album Nobody's Coming To Save You last month, just shy of four years since they dropped their debut.'/Despite the grandiose expectations there's little here to lift The Sunshine Underground out of the lower leagues,' was DiS' Dom Gourlay's summary.
New Young Pony Club's second record opens with a wonderful moment – the warming sound of a synth chord that fades into silence before a slow intake of breath ... and then Ty Bulmer's vocals and a high bass pattern jump into life. If you wanted to bottle the best of what NYPC do, it's there in those 20 seconds. After the moderate success of the charming Fantastic Playroom on Modular, the Londoners are releasing (having also produced) The Optimist themselves.
Don't believe the album title, believe the album cover-- while New Young Pony Club's 2007 debut LP Fantastic Playroom may have been prefab, superficial, and sorta garish, it at least gave the impression of being a whole lot of fun. And now here's The Optimist with its Serious Artist design, but really it's just a preview for dance-rock at its most pro forma and drab, a triangulation of Garbage at their most blandly professional, Bloc Party at their least agitated, and Ladytron at their most bored. At the center of it all is Tahita Bulmer, her deadpan voice previously lauded for conveying a nonchalant carnality on minor hits "Ice Cream" and "The Bomb".
Somebody needs to tell New Young Pony Club that the British dancey post-punk scene died several years ago, when Bloc Party released their dreadful third album. It seems the London five-piece didn’t receive the memo and aren’t aware that a lot has changed since they released their debut album, Fantastic Playroom, three years ago, when bands like the Klaxons were ruling the music world. Their latest album, The Optimist, clings to the wreckage of a scene that doesn’t exist right now and attempts to marry post-punk riffs with dancey synths, resulting in a superficial record that doesn’t exist below the surface.
A super-smart pop album at the top of its game. Natalie Shaw 2010 Before hitting play on The Optimist, there's a fear that it's going to be a less timely rehearsal of New Young Pony Club's 2007 debut. And while the fever of that LP came from its direct rip of the early 80s, its aloof riot-starting propensities and conscious eclecticism became listless by the third playback.