The Pony Collaboration - The Pony Collaboration
(Series 8 Records)

I reviewed the Pony Collaboration's eponymous debut album in March 2006, when it was a slipcase with no label home to go to, but as it's now been remastered Led Zep or Bowie style (well, sort of) and given a proper release through Series 8, and good on 'em, the powers that be (ie Rosey) thought I should do it again.

Truth is I've been pretty underwhelmed by a lot of so-called 'new' music recently, meaning the rather splendid Ponies album has rarely been far from my ears. It's kind of indie, but certainly isn't alt. or any other form of country, and anyone who says otherwise must have a very limited musical vocabulary (including the muppet who wrote their
press release). I prefer to describe it as perfect pop - the kind of thing Serge Gainsborough, and latterly the Wedding Present spin-off Cinerama, have been so deft at producing.

There is a relaxing lounge feel throughout, peppered with dramatic yet subtle storytelling at its finest. And there's no showing off either -
while beautifully performed the songs aren't showy in an individual way, rather being a sum of their considerable parts. Instruments such as piano keyboard, melodica, viola and glockenspiel really run the show, while strummed guitars fill the gaps and drive the sound, giving a cinematic impact that laps at you with the power of an ocean but the subtlety of a gentle wave.

Lyrically its boy meets girl, heartache, what might have been and all that lovey dovey stuff all the way. That's not a bad thing though, when its done right. While you'd struggle to extract a single decent rhyming couplet from a hundred dogshit r'n'b wastes of space, you get a good three or four per song here. The male-female vocal mix is a must for this kind of stuff, and is duly delivered. Neither vocal is strong or overbearing but both ooze personality and the harmonies are

As an album it's littered with uplifting pop gems played with passion, feeling and gusto that you'll be hard pushed to beat out there right now. It seems a bit pointless to pick out individual tracks, as it would suggest there's some duffers, which there aren't. But "Let Go" really stands out - rolling drums, great lyrics, subtle keys and gloch, with souring viola and harmonies in the chorus. Wonderful stuff.

Live, it's as if they've discovered something brilliant - all smiles and childish enthusiasm, bouncing around and grinning at each other.
Sat in your bedroom or sitting on the train with your Walkman, you'll be exactly the same. Enjoy.

Chris Marling