So far this summer, while I have some, ahem, extra time on my hands, I’ve been catching up with some of the music that I couldn’t get to earlier in the year. Making a big impact these days is the careening, childlike indie-pop of Ponytail. When I first started reading about their new record, Ice Cream Spiritual (out now on We Are Free), I incorrectly assumed that I’d find it a difficult listen. Reviews kept bringing up a stylistic connection to Deerhoof, a band I’ve always wanted to like more than I actually do, and one where the vocals are my biggest issue. The main focus of everything I’ve read about Ponytail was the band’s reliance on Molly Seigels’ non-vocals (she hoots, hollers, coos, caws, screams, bleats, yelps, screeches - everything but sings), and that worried me. I figured her vocals would be annoyingly distracting, but it didn’t take long to realize I was wrong - they fit right in with this joyful kaleidoscope of sound in a way that makes imagining Ice Cream Spiritual without them virtually impossible.
Even without traditional vocals and lyrics the music on Ice Cream Spiritual is strangely riveting - a physical force full of pounding riffs, blazing electric guitars, and shifting rhythms. The 8 tracks blow by in one breathless surge of energy (33 minutes) that practically begs you to start it over again right away. Unlike other bands that employ the stranger aspects of this kind of excitable, ADHD-fueled pop music, Ponytail keeps everything within very tight melodic boundaries. The songs are wild and all over the map, yet still somehow focused. In fact, they sort of bleed into one another, which only adds to the roller coaster feel of the album. Every time the ride might be slowing down there comes another unexpected drop or twist or turn that gets things moving again. “Celebrate The Body Electric (It Came From An Angel)” is as good an entry point as any - an unpredictable ride that goes through too many different settings to keep track of, yet builds to a cathartic finale. Just like the rest of the album, it’s a sonic whirlwind that’ll leave you gasping.
MP3 :: Celebrate The Body Electric (It Came From An Angel)
(from Ice Cream Spiritual. Buy here)