matt pond PA's The Dark Leaves is brooding, but it isn't dark

matt pond PA have a well-established formula for making accessible indie pop, usually in chamber form with violin and cello accompanying acoustic guitar. Pond’s been making music with the PA crew since 1998, and despite various lineup changes, their sound has been fairly consistent — some albums teeter on the lush side of orchestral instrumentation while others have a folksier appeal. The Dark Leaves, matt pond PA’s eighth full length, falls into the latter category, while expanding a bit on standard matt pond PA fare in the process. The Dark Leaves contains quite a bit of slower moments, an awareness of space, and just letting songs be. They’re simple, engaging, and a bit rough around the edges.

I’ve always wondered why Pond hasn’t received mainstream radio play, as several of his previous albums were certainly fit to appeal to wide audiences. He has a supremely rich voice to go along with sing-along choruses. But The Dark Leaves contains few sing-alongs and showcases Pond’s unique ability to craft catchy tunes without selling out to overproduction. Although, part of the appeal of Pond’s music is, in fact, the head-bopping quality, and only “Starting” (the promo single), “Sparrows”, and “Running Wild” fit such a style.

Hints of bluegrass shine through on tracks like “Specks”, “Running Wild” is actually a bit psychedelic (especially towards the end as the electric guitar takes over), and “Ruins” even contains elements of experimentation. Together, the tunes evoke imagery of couples gathering on back porches in the heart of Autumn (hello, Spring…) with sun dresses and trousers strewn about the house while hot cocoa bubbles in the kitchen. Nothing wrong with that, I say! The Dark Leaves is not spectacular by any means, but it’s yet another solid effort in a long line of them from matt pond PA. Should we expect anything less?

(Update: The official release was pushed back a week, which I was not aware of, so for now the mp3s will be unavailable. We’ll have them up for you on the 13th, when the album officially comes out. Update 4/13: The mp3s are up.)

matt pond PA – “Running Wild” [MP3]

matt pond PA – “Ruins” [MP3]

Purchase The Dark Leaves

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