Music

The Crash: Pony Ride

One of the best "Britpop" albums of the year, courtesy of a band from Finland.


The Crash

Pony Ride

Label: EMI Finland
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: Available as import
release date: 2006-09-27
Amazon
iTunes

There's nothing quite so effortless or ethereal in radio than a good, anthemic British pop song. See, Britpop has a habit of employing singers with a pure, if thin tenor timbre, Britpop likes major keys, Britpop often employs copious violins. At its best, Britpop floats over this sphere leaving a trail of infectious melodies and good vibes in its wake, even when it's tackling topics best classified as "deadly serious". We may, however, be nearing the end of the time when Great Britain monopolizes the genre that bears its name, however, as it would appear other countries are ready to loosen the stranglehold.

Enter Pony Ride, the best "Britpop" album I've heard this year, courtesy of Finland's own The Crash.

Pony Ride has a sense of utter joy about it that is rare in the still-gloomy landscape of modern music, and that sense of joy permeates every inch of the album, regardless of what lead vocalist and guitarist Teemu Brunila might be singing about. Of course, it probably helps that on the title track, which kicks off the album, he's singing about shagging (no, literally, there's a lyric here that goes "Do you see a guy like me / And a girl like you / shagging by the fire / On a honeymoon?"), and on the next track, if we are to believe the title, he's singing about a "Big Ass Love". Yes, the words "big ass love" actually show up in the song itself, and it really shouldn't work, but it does, thanks to a complete and total investment in the song by every single member involved.

Of course, there's another reason this all works as well -- the members of The Crash allow their pop music to go beyond the "sensitive guys with floppy hair and guitars" sound that seems to work so well so often, allowing their sound to go into just about every single musical realm that was around in, oh, the early '70s. The classic R&B sound of that era peddled by groups like Earth Wind & Fire and the Jackson 5 (I swear the call-and-response hook of "Big Ass Love"'s chorus was lifted from a Jackson 5 tune) is well-represented, as is the piano-balladic tendency of, say, Elton John (as on the utterly beautiful "Grace") and, perhaps least surprisingly, latter-period Beatles -- "Backstage", in particular, sounds like a less-poetic Paul McCartney singing an ode to winning love via stardom.

All of the genre-hopping is held together by Brunila's delightfully effeminate vocal stylings. This is a Bee Gee-type of voice, a high voice that, love it or hate it, is impossible to ignore even as the songs change moods and styles on a whim. That voice is what makes a song by The Crash unique, and the band wouldn't be able to hold the attention of its rapt Scandinavian audience without it.

The Crash's everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach does occasionally backfire, however, the most dramatically awful example being the decidedly painful "Filthy Flower", a three-chord rock (though not ROCK) workout that doesn't exude any of the charisma most of the other tracks are exploding with, along with lyrics that are just... bad. "Hey, you're my filthy flower / And I'm your Dirty Harry / I could be your lover / But I wanna be your man," Brunila sings, and thousands of heads are simultaneously scratched. No, lyrics don't always have to be profound, but if the music is going to be this derivative and unimaginative, the words had best have something to offer. Not so here. Less egregious but still disappointing is the oddly lifeless closer "These Days", an attempt to close Pony Ride on a sensitive note that instead works only as an unintentional lullaby.

Still, stumbles borne of ambition can be forgiven. As it turns out, Pony Ride is the fourth album from The Crash, and it's the kind of album that makes one want to hear the other three -- was The Crash always so daring in their genre-hopping? I hope finding out is as thrilling as hearing Pony Ride for the very first time. The Crash deserves an audience outside of Finland; now is as good a time as any to start broadening your horizons.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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