A lot has changed since since New Young Pony Club’s debut album, Fantastic Playroom, was released on Australia’s Modular Records back in 2007. With New Rave exploding around bands like CSS and Klaxons, NYPC got swept up in the hype of a genre so ill-defined that three years later many people still don’t know what it means. While Fantastic Playroom chronicled the darkly glittering party persona of singer Ty Bulmer, NYPC’s new album, Optimist, is the story of what happens when they step out of the harsh glare of the disco light and into the shadows of a broken heart.
Inspired in part by the dissolution of producer and guitarist Andy Spence’s long-term relationship, Optimist leaves behind the low-fi handclaps and overtly disco rhythms of songs like “Ice Cream” and “Jerk Me” for a rich sound of deep new wave basslines, gauzy goth vocals and angular guitars. While the beginning of album has a headily defiant feeling familiar to anyone caught up in the dramatic throes of a break-up, it soon mutates into a gorgeously melancholic look at the price of saying goodbye.
“Lost a Girl” leaves no doubt that this is a record of loves lost, questioned and debated with the brutal opening salvo of “I’m kissing your hand/I’m making you smile/Why am I doing that?” The title track channels morning after lamentations with drummer Sarah Jones pounding out an 80s power pop drum beat and a throaty anthemic chorus of “You have said/Your name is not for me/I’ll try not to be/Disppointed.” Perhaps the most surprising track is ‘Stone,’ with it’s woozy, Zomby-esque synth line weaving in between paper-thin guitars and the kiss-off line ‘”Cause that’s what you are/you’re stone.”
“Before the Light,” with it’s washed-out Siouxsie and the Banshees style vocals and plaintive piano line, marks the album’s turn inward that continues with the moody, swirling “Oh Cherie” and the bittersweet acceptance of “Architect of Love.” When Ty sings “This was broken/from the start/The blueprint had no art,” it’s with the benefit of hindsight and a sigh for the future. And while the emotions on display may be painful, New Young Pony Club are nothing but optimists.
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