Tired Pony: The Place We Ran From

Tired Pony couldn't have a picked a better name for itself. Just from their debut album, it sounds like they are ready to drop dead.

Tired Pony

The Place We Ran From

Label: Mom & Pop
US Release Date: 2010-09-28
UK Release Date: 2010-07-12
Label website
Artist website

Tired Pony is the sound of Snow Patrol morphing into an alt-country monster at the stroke of midnight, with all the conviction of a Minus 5 knockoff that stepped in a bear trap and is now lumbering through the forest of fruit trees planted by latter-day Son Volt. It's the impression of deep things occurring; music with a dark and moody intent that sounds, at best, even-keel. The rest of the time, a deliberate weariness won't go away. And The Place We Ran From is this conglomerate’s debut album. Are brooding acoustic folk bands supposed to sound this lethargic right out of the starting gate? Tired Pony indeed.

Originally realized as a side-project for Snow Patrol co-founder Gary Lightbody to explore his more acoustic, roots-based side, Tired Pony gradually grew to include big names such as Scott McCaughey, Jacknife Lee, and Peter Buck, as well as Lightbody's less visible cronies like Iain Archer, Richard Colburn, and Troy Stewart. The Place We Ran From also features Zooey Deschanel from She & Him, Tom Smith from the Editors, and M. Ward from Monsters of Folk -- pack your umbrella, because names are dropping. Through this mess, Tired Pony is pretty much Lightbody's show. As far as those providing backup, they could be just about anybody. You wouldn't have ever guessed that McCaughey and Buck were involved if no one brought it to your attention. These songs are more vehicles for desperado lyrics readymade for female vocal accompaniment, and it often feels like Tired Pony never aspired to anything more.

There are stabs of stepping outside of this box. "Dead American Writers" sounds an awful lot like Lightbody's usual day job, but the catchy, brisk tempo, and high-hanging lead guitar help make it a welcome diversion to the rest of the album. It's only two-and-a-half minutes though, and your next course of the meal is "Held in the Arms of Your Words", a total kitchen-sink muddle that crams too many instruments into six freaking minutes. The mounting vocal tracks intentionally avoid matching up because that kind of thing is, you know, cool.

In all fairness, Lightbody still knows his way around a sticky melody enough to transform it into a hook, as on "Get on the Road", "I Am a Landslide", and to a lesser extent, "That Silver Necklace". Tired Pony's problem is that most of these songs didn't go beyond the stage of coming up with a decent little brain worm. They sound like lyrics matched to jams, or maybe the other way around, creating an overall impression that is as vague and unconvincing as the album's title.

Supergroups don't have the greatest track record since they tend to get dragged down by the weight of all egos involved. Tired Pony, however, has a distinct lack of ego that robs it of edge and warts. Despite all of the names involved, the only personality that shines through is Gary Lightbody's, reluctant being the benevolent dictator that Tired Pony needs. Without it, they are just a few clops away from being a, ahem, dead horse.






"I'm an Audience Member, Playing This Music for Us": An Interview With Keller Williams

Veteran musician Keller Williams discusses his special relationship with the Keels, their third album together, Speed, and what he learned from following the Grateful Dead.


Shintaro Kago's 'Dementia 21' Showcases Surrealist Manga

As much as I admire Shintaro Kago's oddness as a writer, his artistic pen is even sharper (but not without problems) as evident in Dementia 21.


Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad Proclaim 'Jazz Is Dead!' Long Live Jazz!

Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad bring their live collaborative efforts with jazz veterans to recorded life with Jazz Is Dead 001, a taste of more music to come.


"I'll See You Later": Repetition and Time in Almodóvar's 'All About My Mother'

There are mythical moments in Almodóvar's All About My Mother. We are meant to register repetition in the story as something wonderfully strange, a connection across the chasm of impossibility.


Electropop's CMON Feel the Noise on 'Confusing Mix of Nations'

Pop duo CMON mix and match contemporary and retro influences to craft the dark dance-pop on Confusing Mix of Nations.


'Harmony' Is About As Bill Frisell As a Bill Frisell Recording Can Be

Bill Frisell's debut on Blue Note Records is a gentle recording featuring a few oddball gems, particularly when he digs into the standard repertoire with Petra Haden's voice out front.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 4, James Chance to the Pop Group

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part four with Talking Heads, the Fall, Devo and more.


Raye Zaragoza's "Fight Like a Girl" Shatters the Idea of What Women Can and Can't Do (premiere)

Singer-songwriter and activist Raye Zaragoza's new single, "Fight Like a Girl", is an empowering anthem for intersectional feminism, encouraging resilience amongst all women.


VickiKristinaBarcelona Celebrate Tom Waits on "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" (premiere)

VickiKristinaBarcelona celebrate the singular world of Tom Waits their upcoming debut, Pawn Shop Radio. Hear "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" ahead of tomorrow's single release.


'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.


Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.