The Ponys served up a wildly distinctive sound on their debut album, 2004's Laced With Romance, and it's the good fortune of listeners everywhere that they've actually gotten better (and added some new layers to their approach) on their sophomore long-player, Celebration Castle. While the Ponys' broad palate of influences hasn't changed all that much -- a muscular and sweaty mélange of noisy pop sounds, ranging from the Velvet Underground and Richard Hell to the Cure and My Bloody Valentine -- their noisy, guitar-fueled pop has developed an even hookier melodic presence without losing the edge of Jered Gummere's and Ian Adams' guitars, which are fused with a precision that makes the hedonistic abandon of their music all the more stunning. The Ponys are one of those rare bands who seem to have the mind/body thing figured out -- their music is decidedly smart, but they also know how to have a wild good time, and Celebration Castle is packed with clever, brilliantly constructed songs that give the band room to whip themselves into a glorious frenzy that communicates on plastic with admirable clarity. (Steve Albini's recording goes a long way towards capturing the finer details of their performances while making the most of their physical impact.) And the best songs here trump the fine material on Laced With Romance, most notably "Glass Conversation," "We Shot the World" and "Shadow Box." Celebration Castle confirms what anyone who heard Laced With Romance suspected -- that the Ponys are growing into one of the best and most powerfully pleasurable rock bands of their generation. If they can make another album this good, they'll be nothing short of unstoppable.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming