[19 June 2011]
Matt Pond PA’s releases have been mostly unremarkable since a pair of excellent discs from early last decade: 2003’s Emblems and the Winter Songs EP that dropped a year later. Spring Fools, the latest EP from Matt Pond and a line-up of bandmates that changes as often as the seasons that Pond so clearly adores, doesn’t approach either Emblems or Winter Songs, but it’s still an improvement over last year’s forgettable LP, The Dark Leaves. Pond channels his love for the outdoors into the sweet and wistful “Lovers Always Win”, its minor-key piano melody sounding like staring at spring rain through your bedroom window. Pond has always managed to recruit some intriguing talent for guest appearances, and Spring Fools is no different with Ariel Abshire’s down-home vocals helping to keep the whole album grounded. In the end, Spring Fools should function as a kind of companion piece to Winter Songs, but the latter has all the first-rate songs (even if two—Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road” and Richard and Linda Thompson’s “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight”—are covers). Spring sounds fine, but Pond and his chamber pop outfit just sound better when they’re staring out the window at snow.