New York City’s Matt Pond—who started in Pennsylvania, of course—has been a criminally underrated songwriter for some time now, in both his ability to pen simple, charming pop songs and complex, piece-weaving tomes of despondency. I’ve always enjoyed his work for his lyrics first, more poetic than the phoned-in “I need you”s you normally get from similar material. He tells story. He uses colors.
“Last Light” is Matt Pond PA’s newest record, the band’s eighth full-length since his 1998 debut, and his follow-up to 2005’s accomplished “Several Arrows Later.” (Pond’s had some great records, including “Arrows,” “Emblems” and “The Nature of Maps,” that I’m upset I haven’t listened to more.) The new album shows the maturity you would expect from a seasoned songwriter, but Pond keeps the pieces that have made his material work. The material is pop-crazy and the sound is sentimental and even danceable. He talks of love and death, but mostly, unwaveringly, of life.
“With everything you do, you just become better. You’re supposed to,” Pond says of the new record. “I don’t know. We just got rid of trying to accommodate people. There used to be a lot of diplomacy, but that went right out the door. You want to create with people, you want to create as a group. You want all their ideas, and then sometimes records aren’t as good as you want them to be.”
Does the songwriting begin with him, then? “It starts there. It depends on how much I’m feeling trustworthy. You feel crazy [sometimes], like everyone’s out to get you, and then you keep things away.” Does he feel he has the right group of musicians in his band now? “Yes,” he says. “I would say yes. I hope so. It sounds better in practice than it’s ever sounded, though.”
Pond feels he’s become a stronger writer. “I hope I’ve become better,” he says. “I can see things in my head now. I can sometimes see a song almost all the way through just inside my head. It’s kind of creepy. You want to talk to people and hang out, but when I’m doing that, it’s kind of like I have an absolute inability to communicate with people at all.” (Tom Lynch)
Matt Pond PA plays October 7 at Double Door, 1572 North Milwaukee, (773)489-3160, at 8pm. $12.