Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Matt Pond PA Rake The Dark Leaves

Matt Pond PA and his fellow musicians are truly a group of troubadours both literally and physically. Making the rounds with labels, having called no fewer than three home and writing the sort of acoustic folky pop that brings to mind so many famed singer songwriters you can't help but picture this band a s a group of wandering minstrels bringing their wistful pop wherever they go. On this, The Dark Leaves, their seventh album, Matt Pond PA have so solidified their sound and their approach to writing music that the songs could almost write themselves. Despite being on several labels over the course of their career, the band has never once sounded as though they've been set back or forced to slow down and have instead continued to refine their sound. The Dark Leavescontinues this trend and shows the band to be adept, mature, and fantastic songwriters.

Taking the alt-country and folk-pop template and turning it right side up, the band mixes the sounds of folks like Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan with a strong sense of the dramatic which makes for songs that are far from boring and anything but cliche. Perhaps sounding a bit like Jason Molina and Magnolia Electric Company on five hour energy, Matt Pond PA maintain a level of intimacy while writing the big songs that are hard to forget. For the most part they succeed as the tunes on The Dark Leaveshave more than enough handclaps, catchy lyrics, twang, cello, ambient sounds and jangle to populate three more albums. This is a rich album that shows the band to be dynamic and flexible with it's sound; one minute they're going for the jugular with a huge hook and the next they're sitting on the porch and whispering into your ear. It's enthralling stuff and whether it's the jangly, jumpy, "Ruins," or the slowed down twang of the guarded, "Winter Fawn," The Dark Leaves is superb.

While Matt Pond PA continues to use their trademarked slow and easy sound as a cornerstone the band searches endlessly to find ways to express themselves in new ways. They push their comfort zone constantly and write songs that expand upon that idea that consistency is good when mixed with something new. They're ability to hypnotize and enthrall is truly amazing, especially after a decade of being together. With songs that weave influences, sounds, and textures into something that's up close and personal while still having a sense of what makes a tune good, it's really no surprise of what they're able to do. Matt Pond PA have turned into one of the greatest folk-pop groups that barely cling to that title. With that being said, The Dark Leaves might be my favorite Matt Pond Pa album of them all and should be yours as well. Pastoral brilliance has never sounded so close and so good.

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