Under Review: New Young Pony Club – The Optimist

London’s New Young Pony Club came into prominence not so much because of their groundbreaking music, arresting live shows or relentless public appearances.  They got famous from television.  From a car commercial, to be more specific.  Sure, they were modestly popular in their native country and in pockets of Australia, but the band’s single “Ice Cream,” which was used by Nissan in 2009 brought the NYPC to a worldwide audience.  As the song (and its parent album, Fantastic Playroom) was a pleasant slice of electro-sass, I suppose you could file this in the ‘any port in a storm’ department.  After all, the unwieldy nature of the modern music industry allows few opportunities for bands to really make a killing on their very own.  Even if a band is best known for providing a soundtrack to a 30-second spot, they’re still known, right?  Now that the NYPC have returned with a new album, they seem ready to shake off any notions of flash in the pan status.  I say they only seem ready because in order for them to truly prove themselves, The Optimist would have to be a slightly better record.  Touted as being a move towards a ‘darker’ sound for the band, The Optimist aims to present a more mature set where it delivers a rather bland, generic one.  This is made all the more noticeable in the album’s opening songs, where Tahita Bulmer’s deadpan delivery brings down what could otherwise be rushing dancefloor jams.  Kickoff couplet “Lost A Girl” and “Chaos” might have been more enjoyable if Bulmer tried to branch out into a more extroverted vocal style, but the lack of affection instead comes off as a lack of interest.  The music gets a little more focused as the album progresses, and the songs do get a little better, with “Oh Cherie” and “Dolls” sounding like lost Siouxsie Sioux outtakes.  The gloomy posturing generally comes across as contrived, as though the NYPC feel that they have to make a sophomore album that sounds like this.  The promise they showed on Fantastic Playroom as breakout stars of the new wave revival has only led to a mostly predictable and unmoving follow-up.  On the bright side, most new wave bands of the original era had smashing third albums.  I only hope that the NYPC stay true to that new wave cliché, too.

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~ by E. on April 2, 2010.

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