Release Date: Mar 20, 2007
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The great thing about the Ponys is their unwillingness to adhere to anything as trivial as contemporary trends. Modernity can take a running jump when this group storm into town, guitars blazing and drums flaring. The Chicago four-piece could have been plucked from any decade from the 1960s onward, though they have cleverly skipped out the past seven years - their only nod to the new millennium being their knowing eclecticism.
On their third album (and first for Matador), Chicago noise-pop titans the Ponys offer up a few small but noticeable changes from the approach of their first two albums, Laced with Romance and Celebration Castle. Ian Adams left the band shortly after Celebration Castle was completed, and Turn the Lights Out marks the recorded debut of new guitarist Brian Case, who brings a more controlled and less frantic style to these new songs. Also, while the first two albums were respectively produced by the relatively hands-off Jim Diamond and Steve Albini, Turn the Lights Out was produced by the band with the assistance of John Agnello, and he seems to have imposed a greater degree of discipline on the Ponys -- this is a decidedly cleaner and more disciplined disc than their earlier efforts, though Agnello still honors the deep and echoey sound that's been the band's trademark in the studio.
Our little Ponys are all grown up. Following two albums of brash, bare garage rock, the Chicago quartet's Matador bow packs on a hefty layer of instrumental embellishment reminiscent of age-proof indie warhorses Yo La Tengo. Occasionally they go too far the other way, gazing at their shoes too long and losing the plot entirely, but otherwise these songs' added depth and dimension justify their authors' frequent sorties into Daydream Nation.
The Ponys’ singer Jered Gunmere seems determined to put those Richard Hell comparisons behind him. His occasionally wayward yelping from earlier records has been drowned by waves of echo. The band may have returned to Electrical Audio to record Turn Out The Lights, but from the sound of things they sent Steve Albini out to buy some Slim Jims and then padlocked the door for the rest of the session.