New Young Pony Club

Fantastic Playroom

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A slow release schedule is something New Young Pony Club do not have in common with most new wave bands. Roughly three years passed between the release of NYPC's first single and this debut album, a span of time in which many an '80s band fit a spate of singles, two or three albums, a bad major-label deal, and an ugly breakup. But, hey, why rush things? At this point it is apparent that neo-new wave bands will be around as long as the garage rock revivalists, so it's not as if the band should feel pressed to be prolific before the world leaves it and its peers behind. The one thing that is disappointing about Fantastic Playroom, beyond its lateness, is that it's a glorified singles compilation -- albeit one involving some alternate mixes -- with only a handful of previously unreleased songs, especially since a full-length had been such a long time coming. By any other standard, it is a fetching 40-minute album, with each song supplying its own set of penetrating hooks, ear-ticklingly sharp guitars, moody synthesizer gauze, and mobile rhythms. No, there's nothing incredibly unique or out of the ordinary going on. The band seems willing to admit as much; at one point, the "Sounds Like" section on its MySpace page was filled out with something blasé, like "the usual," along with an affirming short list of bands. (When David Bowie gushed about "Get Lucky," he drew a basic ballpark Blondie-plus-Gang of Four comparison.) You don't get the sense that they are very self-conscious or cred hungry about what they do, like they were happy to get their ESG fix through the Soul Jazz CD compilation, rather than sniped mint copies of the first EP from online sources, and maybe they're copping the glammed-out poses on the album's cover from Duran Duran instead of Roxy Music. Most importantly, they seem preoccupied with making songs that are both immediately enjoyable and lasting, as well as smart and funny in all the right ways. Knowing lead singer Tahita Bulmer, or at least the characters she embodies in these songs, must involve the occasional slug in the shoulder and not being able to discern the difference between her plain talk and sarcasm.

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