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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Matt Pond PA
Several Arrows Later
Altitude Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

October 11, 2005
I love Matt Pond, as any fan duly must, because he is a friend. Our time together is cherished, and every time he sends a work from his heart, I hurry to grab it and delight in its every comfort. Each of his albums is a treasure because it does feel so much like a letter from a loved one whose company you cherish.

Coming off of the heels of the striking, personal EP, Winter Songs, Matt Pond PA's latest full-length, Several Arrows Later is at times perplexingly distant. While each of his albums has been marked by closeness, wonder and Pond's sincere voice, this album can be more platonic than intimate, possessing an almost impervious skin. While still beautiful - and at its best moments as achingly awestruck as before - it is not as touchable or familiar as his earlier works.

Though sparkling in instrumentalism, opener "Halloween" makes this case by being refined and mannered, and is not as overwhelmed with amazement as has become Pond's hallmark. Despite its flashes of fullness and swelling aesthetics, it is protected and aloof.

Other tracks, including the weirdly propulsive "So Much Trouble" and the Police-inspired "Spring Provides", take a crack at newfound edge, and include prickling electronics, minimal 80s vibes and semi-unconventional skewings (at least for Matt Pond). As such, these songs feel odd and out of place, mainly because they are in the same group as cuts like "City Song", whose swimming, glorious melody is a return to form. As loping, watery strings rush in and embrace the vastness of it all, we are reminded what Matt Pond PA does best and, because of this, much of Several Arrows Later feels uneven in comparison.

It is uncertain if Matt Pond and his crew are bracing to move their sound in new directions, but with glimpses of their former, capable beauty in the album's stunners - including "It Is Safe" and the bustling, Broken Social Scene-styled flurry of the title track - it is painful to think they may be abandoning their signature sound, as they are one of the few bands who do it with such authenticity and beauty. In contrast to their many marvels, "The Trees and the Wild" is too by-the-book; "The Moviegoer" plays tritely like a child dressing up in his parents' clothes. As an inoffensive and altogether pleasant pop album, Several Arrows Later thrives, but in the context of such a remarkable catalog, it falls slightly short… or perhaps it is just sad to think we may not be as close as we once were.

The swirling, kinetic "From Debris" sounds conspicuously like Death Cab for Cutie's "We Laugh Indoors" - and what with Matt Pond PA's coming tour with Liz Phair, it's tempting to think they may be making a play for the same market shared by Gibbard and Company - but we can take comfort in the fact that by the time the closer, "Devil in the Water" makes its presence, Matt Pond has returned to the serene, wintry grounds of splendor and intimacy from which he came. As the song repeats "It's over," and that we must "spend our time/spend it all," we know that it is once again safe to curl up with our lovely companion by the welcoming fire. It is the place we feel most at home with Matt Pond, and is the stuff our good memories are made of.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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