Fronted by a Richard Hell sound-alike, The Ponys' debut album brings new life to the post-punk sound of the early '80s. Laced With Romance features intricate dual-guitar work, springing melodies, standout drumming and infectious, stop-start arrangements that pull off a revival without sounding redundant. Produced by Detroit's renowned record-maker Jim Diamond, the new album from the Chicago quartet lead singer/guitarist Jered Gummere, guitarist/keyboardist Ian Adams, bassist/singer Melissa Elias (Gummere's girlfriend) and drummer Nathan Jerde digs through a complex, edgy variety of rock, punk and pop sound structures to come out with something uniquely and powerfully their own.
Opening fittingly with the sound of galloping horses, the first track, "Let's
Kill Ourselves" is surprisingly upbeat (rollicking beats, snapping riffs) given
the subject matter, while "Sad Eyes" feels ominous and robotic for its creepy,
repetitive riff, minimal instrumentation and spacey effects. The Ronettes-by-way-of-Sonic
Youth-influenced "Fall In" finds Elias on vocals with a Kim Gordon-affected scratchy
speak-sneer. Elias also takes a lead vocal on the incredibly catchy, new-wavy "I
Love You 'Cause (You Look Like Me).
The '60s garage-style "Trouble Trouble" has the keyboard pumps and tambourine shakes up front and the slightly distorted vocals out back, while the ballad, "I'll Make You a Star," sweeps along with intentionally sluggish, whining guitar, an emotive melody and impassioned, pleading vocals. "I'll make you a star/ For the night/ You'll be my girl/ And I'll be your guy," begs Gummere. "Where you going now?/ I told you never to leave me alone/ Alone/ Alone." Listen to this blistering, pulsating rock album enough and you never will. Feel alone, that is.