Matt Pond PA has delivered a flurry of music since their inception in 1998 around the enigmatic songwriter and namesake. His revolving cast of collaborators, creators, and guests have served him well throughout his career. Just as it goes, he is very underappreciated and underrated as a songwriter. They are that band, and he is that singer, that you just can’t put your finger on. That “I’ve heard that before” kind of band. That flurry of music includes 11 albums and 8 EP’s with songs featured on compilations, TV shows, and in the background of trendy coffee shops. Matt Pond PA released the album Winter Lives in late 2016 on Pond’s new label 131 Records, and now that the ache of summer is here, the band will release its twelfth album Still Summer, out August 11th.
Still Summer aches with a deep nostalgia that cuts like a broken heart. The songs are wistful and dramatic, thoughtful and conscious, self aware of those cuts with discussions on the sound of the breaking. The record drips like August humidity in Florida, and yearns for that puppy love during summer camp. Pond goes so far as to call the record “about holding hands with ghosts and then letting go”, which I find to be a perfect sentiment. Album opener “A Spark” is the sonic equivalent of the energy that is put into a first love. “Street Squirrels” is dramatic and fragile with Pond’s voice heartfelt with a stroke of lightning. The upbeat “Rabbit” was meant for the end of a John Hughes movie with a sing along, movie credits disco. “Full Stop” features Caroline Reese’s beautiful alto singing parallel to Pond, both driving the song, neither fully taking over the song. The gem of the record is “Union Square” with its 80s flavor it skipping along the backbeat like a stone in a secluded stream.
“Union Square” also offers the mantra “let’s remember, how it could be” as a theme to the song, which could be transposed onto the entire record. This is the record to listen to when you need your memories back. The record to better understand that summer is fleeting, and to try to hold onto it just a little while longer, even if it hurts.
8.7 / 10
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