Recently, while discussing new releases, a co-worker made the statement that the new Matt Pond PA album is pretty much middle of the road indie rock – but I disagree. I wasn’t overly anxious to listen to this record, but I was pleasantly surprised when I did because the boundless energy is palpable. And while it “is” indie rock, categorically speaking, the music can also be referred to as adult alternative but I would not consider this “Dad Rock,” contrary to the many nefarious critics out there.

Matt Pond PA

I’ve read one too many reviews that describe the album as shimmering or shimmery with respect to the production, so I’m not going to apply that overused description to this review, even if there are some “shimmering” synth-laden moments.

For some reason this album resonates a lot with me; perhaps it’s because I like deeper meaning in lyrics (though Matt Pond PA has been criticized by Pop Matters, for one, for their “artless lyricism.”)

In my mind, this album is telling a story about hope and optimism and illustrates very well that life is short and to take advantage of the time we’re given, even with a few melancholy lyrical displays such as “I wish I could’ve had just one more night with Los Angeles” or “I’ve been a friend of doubt.”

A poetess at heart, I could point out many displays of lyrical brilliance throughout this album, as well, like “the state of gold floods my lungs, I’m full of fire” and “a sigh could fuel the sun and the blue sky floods our bones and nothing mattered,” along with some beautiful harmonies on “More No More,” “Take Me With You,” and “Emptiness,” which are standout, infectious indie tracks worth giving a listen. I’m glad I gave this record a chance and listened to it in whole and without expectation because it’s definitely worth another listen or more.

Other tracks worth checking out are: “Don’t Look Down, “Have To Know,” and “The State of Gold” (Part 1 and Part 2).

One unnamed critic compared “Take Me With You” to a Taylor Swift song. I disagree. Excitement and expectation are inherent within the song even if the lyrics are simplistic, “when we run away, let’s really run, when we come undone, let’s really come.” It’s about completely letting loose, losing all inhibitions and the anticipation of doing just that. Plus, what’s wrong with a perfectly good construct of a song (hence the Taylor Swift reference)? Songwriting and instrumentation can be art forms or they can be sparse or it can all straight up mathemetics. After all, aren’t musicians and “pop stars” utilizing a formula each time they release another cookie cutter album that somehow shoots straight to the top of the Billboard charts?

The album begins on a high note with the synth-driven “More No More” and ends with a well-placed nod to “making it” as far as fame and success are concerned in the track “Spaceland.” Not to mention the album’s title The State of Gold alludes to being in a good place, mentally and emotionally, most likely. What’s not to like about that? While I mostly prefer darker indie rock and don’t necessarily think this is the in the top 10 best albums of the year or anything, an upbeat and driven album like this definitely has its place in my collection.

– Submitted by Ashley Plinzke, Music Design