Sure As The Sun – NYPC
45:30 min • The Numbers • October 6, 2013
John Preston reviews
London based indie electro brats New Young Pony Club are now just NYPC. The abbreviated name also reflects their reduction from a 5 piece band to a duo; original members lead singer Tahita Bulmer and producer Andy Spence remain. They still sound like New Young Pony Club but this, their third album, is by some distance their most accomplished, musical and exciting to date. It seems that the trimming away of excess views and voices has bought about about a new found sonic richness and clarity with a welcomed ability to craft the kind of songs that you always hoped they would make but never quite managed to deliver.
The tough and tantalising opener ‘Hard Knocks’ with its wonderfully disorganised lyrics (‘waiting for, hard knocks, the school of, I think you are) is instantly recognisable as the group due to its monotone, perpetually pissed off vocal, heard first in 2009’s omnipresent ‘Ice Cream’. On NYPC‘s first single ‘You Used to Be a Man’ which is a lesson in building, electro minimalism, there are multiple harmonies through out, a middle eight and a melody that will not want to leave your head willingly. ‘Do you understand how hard it is to stand and watch you fall hard?’ goes the cheeky, smart arse hook and although somewhat economic in structure it bares testament to how far their song writing skills have developed over 5 years.
‘Sure As The Sun’ has humour,
Last night we went to a model home,
We thought it was love,
It was just a mirage –
funky bass and waves of electro parps, defining the point where Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club merge. ‘I Came Through For You’ has muted ‘Plant Rock’ style drum machine booms and ‘Things You Like’ relies on the staple Bulmer delivery before it shifts key then, along with Spence, a romantic and wistful, pure pop chorus unexpectedly emerges. Stand out track ‘Now I’m Your Gun’ with its seductive and assertive plucked synth chords and accordion appearance is sleek and precise. The beautiful and modern electronics, albeit inspired mainly by 3 decades worth of genre twisting artists and music, are expertly played and gleam throughout the album.
‘Play Hard’ with its hard nosed, new wave guitar and vocals can be traced back to the B52’s first 2 completely essential and ground breaking albums when Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson sang about fish as gifts, dirty back roads and not dancing like cheese; weird and wilfully sexy. The final two minutes of ‘Everything Is’ are pure snapping beats and steel drums, which will undoubtably bring to mind The Knife, but NYPC have made something life affirming and relatable (as opposed to the overwhelming impenetrable coolness of the Stockholm duo’s ‘Shaking the Habitual’ album from earlier this year). It’s sad that Bulmer and Spence won’t garner the same amount of media coverage and adulation. Only on the final track, ‘L.O.V.E.’ does the steam begin to run out and things start to plod but by this point it is easily overlooked.
At times it felt like New Young Pony Club were more part of an East London ‘fashion slash’ mob rather than a stand alone, individual musical entity. Their debut was gimmicky and sounding only half finished and the (surely) ironically titled ‘The Optimist’ was heavy with something other than tunes and in retrospect the disharmony within the group at that time could have been responsible. The NYPC sound is one of artists finally snapping together the crucial matching and previously lost parts to form a new, perfect whole. Streamlined, efficient and pleasure seeking, it’s a beautiful and intelligent thing.