New Young Pony Club, or NYPC, as they are now to be known, are amazing.
I’m sorry if that’s not the most objective statement, but you try being an unsuccessful punk with awful hair that you hated at the age of 14 and hearing The Bomb for the first time and realising that Tahita Bulmer, that wonderful wonderful woman, with the most badass hair and clothes ever, had gifted you pop punk. You try not LOVING THEM.
So the news of a new record, three years after the awesomeness that was The Optimist, turned me into a gibbering wreck, kneeling in front of my letter box to recieve the package of musical love that was to arrive from Paradise, care of Royal Mail.
I have to admit though, that at first listen, I wasn’t keen on the album- none of the new songs in the first half really grabbed me. The crystal, clear cut melodies of Sure As the Sun didn’t really do anything for me, and Now I’m Your Gun just felt like we’d travelled back to Fantastic Playroom and unremembered everything that made NYPC more than your average arrogant pop outfit.
And then I listened to it on a CD player instead of on my rubbish laptop, and just… yes. NYPC were totally back. They’ve managed to mix the punky, obnoxious and delightful elements of their debut (Most evidenced on Hard Knocks) with the elegant, dark sound scapes of The Optimist (as on the previously reviled track Now I’m Your Gun) and made it into beautiful songs that sound like the ridiculously over saturated sunset that graces the cover.
There’s still beauty- I mean, what is Things Like You if not pop at its most beautiful, without getting all schmaltzy? And there’s still darkness. And there’s still laugh out loud hilarious lyrics. And there’s still things that should be obnoxious (such as repeating sounds at different frequencies on I Came Through For You) but which just make you smile.
And therein lies the problem with this album- it’s still. We haven’t moved anywhere. We haven’t really progressed. You can remove up to three members, and have a sort of new title, but the music hasn’t really matured. It’s still as good as it ever was, because NYPC know what works for them, but then, where’s the risk? And if you only ever cater towards the sounds that you know you can do well, where’s the bad? But also, where’s the moment of supreme awesome?
This is a record that I have waited three years for, and which still only comes with the grudging requisite ten tracks, which is beginning to look a little stingy, guys. One of the most hilarious things about NYPC’s career is that every time a new album comes out, critics laud it as being such a departure from their previous work. I am beginning to believe that its just been so DARN LONG between the albums that the critics forget exactly what the last records sounded like, and so yes, it is a departure- but a departure from a train station whose tracks are essentially just one, three year long, circle.
And what really annoys me is that The Optimist, which did actually make some efforts at wing-stretching, is now being retroactively called ‘Bulmer flounder[ing] amid feelings of loss and bitterness’. But that loss and bitterness was what made it different, and a stronger album than Fantastic Playroom! And if we criticise that while praising an album that shows next to no growth, what example are we setting for musicians? That trying to do something new is overrated?
This is a worrying trend in music that needs to be corrected. Bands used to release an album every year, and you know what? They found different sounds to fill those albums with. Now we have a new album every three years, and its essentially exactly the same. Yes, I can tell the musical difference because I’m an obsessed nerd, but no one sane can.
Let’s say that you wanted to listen to a Punk rock/New Wave Blondie album- you have Parallel Lines. And you ONLY have Parallel Lines. Plastic Letters is a mix of punk rock and the fifties rock’n’roll pop that filled their first album, and Eat to the Beat, which follows, it essentially just New Wave and Pop. Subsequent Blondie albums get even wilder and weirder.
Let’s say you want to listen to a punk/pop/dance NYPC record.
Please see: every album NYPC have ever produced.