"Several Arrows Later" represents the most immediate and rocking expression of Matt Pond PA's music yet. His lyrics push through the confusion of city life (a smaller sky, throttling expectations, and terrible parties) and... more » the comfort of country life (the familiar, the green, and the seasons) - both asking and telling us why we act the way we do. But it's not a call to action; it's a plea against apathy. Musically, it shies away from the redundancy of present day rock posturing yet remains totally immediate, relevant, and ridiculously catchy.« less
"Several Arrows Later" represents the most immediate and rocking expression of Matt Pond PA's music yet. His lyrics push through the confusion of city life (a smaller sky, throttling expectations, and terrible parties) and the comfort of country life (the familiar, the green, and the seasons) - both asking and telling us why we act the way we do. But it's not a call to action; it's a plea against apathy. Musically, it shies away from the redundancy of present day rock posturing yet remains totally immediate, relevant, and ridiculously catchy.
"OK, so matt pond PA have been around for a while. Why now should we care more than we have in the past? Well, the answer is simple, they are at the top of their game. Led by their namesake, mpPA just deliver us songs. They aren't concoctions of lyrics and guitars and drums. They are songs with meaning and feeling. The lyrics hit us where it counts. We feel the emotion that the singer sings about and it penetrates us through our skin and bones. One might equate the sensation that you get from listening to this album to watching a really powerful movie. There's no question that what the players are doing is outstanding, but when you can actually take away a physical reaction from a recording, then you've got something. The opening track 'Halloween' does an excellent job introducing us to who matt pond PA is today, and also stands alone as a track driven by lyrics accompanied by sheer instrumental beauty. 'So Much Trouble' is, without a doubt, the absolute best song on the disc, with catchy lyrics, the likes of which have the makings for a top rock radio single. Throughout the disc, you can hear faint style elements of other indie-turned-popular bands like Death Cab For Cutie and Guster. So, judging by the success of their predecessors, mpPA are surely at the stage where this album is going to catapult them to wider success.
Garett Press | Westchester, NY | 01/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Matt Pond PA - Several Arrows Later www.absolutepunk.net
Jingle jangle, a term that materializes between my ears as the buzzing, warm opening notes of Several Arrows Later jump anxiously from my otherwise lifeless gray headphones. There's an interesting contrast here on "Halloween." By all means this song should feel like a warm weather anthem but in true fashion of a record released while leaves are dead and withering, the verses appear to be weighed down by the petulant violins. It strikes me that Matt would choose to simmer this otherwise buoyantly joyous pot with such a heavy undertone, until I begin to process the lyrics. "Went to where the people were on a Saturday night/Seems like it always seems, where we go I want to leave/Thought we were doin' fine with our lives/There are people who will tell ya' there is always something better." This is so... bleak, but the keyboard riff immediately following makes me want to run around in a grassy field? My first instinct tells me that the music and the lyrics just don't align, but then I'm hit with a revelation... I've felt this way before.
This juxtaposition of tempo, tone, and topic is exactly the art that Mr. Pond has so clearly perfected. Sounding tried and true, he sings with what I would describe as eager melancholy. Oxymoron? No... instead, a man weathered by all the pitfalls of life but with a genuine sense of what it means to feel good. Haven't you ever walked away from an instance in life with a knot in your stomach and kink in your neck only to be greeted by good news and the hug of a cool breeze? If I had to guess I'd infer that these "everything's gonna be okay" moments play a largely affective role, consciously or not, in the songwriting of our boy from Pennsylvania. Again and again, there's this sense of delight begging to break through like sunshine through the clouds, and perhaps that's what makes the chorus of title track "Several Arrows Later" flow through your veins and bubble in your blood. This notion of suppressed elation is widely infectious and when it does in fact poke its golden head through the jail cell bars of tribulation and glum, the payoff is well worth the wait, and then some.
The record as a whole lacks a true climax or a 24 karat gold hit, though many tracks will delight, but easily holds together as a heady conglomerate of pleasurable tunes and top notch musicianship. As well, the disc also doesn't boast much by way of replay value, but for each interval of listening, it will satisfy indefinitely. If you dig any of the other headliners in this currently fashionable popular-indie genre (DCFC, Decemberists, Arcade Fire), Matt Pond PA better be the author of the next Mp3 to pop up when you shuffle your iPod library. Very right for a season known as Fall, and very worthy of your time on every account. You might just find yourself relating to Matt's intriguing musical perspective of veiled optimism, or maybe you'll just think I'm an over-analytical bastard. Regardless, check it out.
New to me...
M. Black | Chicago, IL United States | 03/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had never heard of Matt Pond PA until I caught Liz Phair at the Vic Theater in Chicago. They opened for Liz and totally got my attention - they rocked and they were very likeable! As is usually the case with a quality band, I liked them live more than the album, but thought enough of them to remember their name and order the album three months later! They remind me of very, very early REM (who also used to frequent the Vic in those days) and other similar indie bands (okay, I'm dating myself, so what?). I think they have a great future if they continue to put out a unique sound and the great quality work that I saw in person and I enjoy on this album. Several Arrows Later is easy to listen to and is well worthy to add to your in-dash CD player or I-Pod. If you can, catch them live - these songs rock in person!"
Good album from a band I'd not known well before.
Peter Shermeta | Rochester, MI | 08/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My exposure to matt pond PA was very limited before this album. I had only listened to the songs available to download from the official band website. I liked what I heard and was excited to learn about the latest album (October, 2005). A few guitars; a bass; a cello; drums; and the occasional keyboard, the recipe is a simple one to generate an enjoyable album from matt pond PA. Even though some of the songs blend together at the middle of the album, which makes them difficult to decipher from one another...
01. Halloween This is a representative song of what I like about matt pond PA. The sound is relaxed but not slow. Your subconscious takes over before long and you're tapping your foot or bobbing your head.
02. So Much Trouble If they have not yet taken it down, the video for this song is available at matt pond PA's myspace page. This song would go well on a mixtape with the Postal Service.
03. The Trees And The Wild As the song starts I feel that the music might be boring. It is simple and a little slower, but that does not mean is has to be boring. It works well here. Decent track.
04. Several Arrows Later The title track is a good song to appreciate Matt Pond's voice. The contrast between slower vocals and up-tempo music sounds pretty good.
05. It Is Safe There is nothing too remarkable about this song, and nothing really worth mentioning. It is a solid track as we enter the middle of the disc.
06. Emblems The music shakes you awake while the vocals rock you gently to sleep. Emblems leaves you slightly confused, though entertained.
07. City Song I think it's the cello that adds the slower element to the album. It's good, but this is a song where it is more noticeable.
08. From Debris This is one of the better songs on the album. The music grabs you right from the beginning. "From Debriiiiiis...you and meeeee...." Sing it with me.
09. Brooklyn Stars This song is a great example of what I consider to be a strength in lyrics on this album. It seems a pretty simple story that may not be so simple after all.
10. The Moviegoer I like this song now. The comparison to The Strokes - Last Nite drove me crazy for awhile, but it is not so bad anymore. It is a good song with a fun beat to it.
11. Spring Provides The album really ends strongly. Not to say that the earlier tracks are not good, but it is just heavily weighted on the end. Spring Provides...provides more proof of that.
12. Devil In The Water After Halloween, Devil in the Water is probably my favorite song on the album. They seem to have held nothing back as the album draws to a close. Not that this song is packed with loud energy, because it is not.
They took some good songs and wrapped them in two great ones. There is no negative connotation when I describe this as a good "rainy day" album, when your energy level may match the weather outside. That might be one of the best times to listen to Several Arrows Later, though not only time. Check it out for yourself. "
Indie rock machine music
Mister Charlie | Los Angeles, CA | 02/22/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On first listen, never having heard MPPA before, this record sounded to me like middle-of-the road pop-rock with a well-kempt haircut and a nice sweater, with safe melodies and arrangements written by some computer program and a singer not trying to wake the neighbors, likely purchased by kids who think Jimmy Eat World is too anthemic and the Shins are a tad too weird.
But, weirdly enough, I liked it enough to come back to it a few times, and I've come to really appreciate MPPA's melodic sense, reminding me a bit of a slightly more fun Death cab for cutie. I really like the slightly gravelly quality of Pond's voice, but I wish he would show more dynamic range in his singing, song after song the intensity level never seems to vary. The band shows admirable restraint throughout, in keeping with this "chamber pop" moniker I've seen applied to them. They are the intelligent well-mannered 20-something at your dinner party who you hope is far more interesting than they're letting on.
If you're old enough to remember liking The Railway Children back in the '80s, you'll appreciate this. "