You can take Matt Pond out of Pennsylvania, but apparently you can't take the PA out of Matt Pond. After 2013's The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand, the prolific New York-based singer/songwriter's first proper solo album, Pond reconvened with the loose-knit ensemble of collaborators who have long made up his band and recorded The State of Gold, the tenth album under the matt pond PA banner. The world-weary yet hopeful everyman style he has perfected over time remains partially in effect, but the decidedly slick production provides a surprisingly effective frame for an album Pond considers to be about "defeating my greatest enemy -- myself." Lush synths, subtle electronics, and pulsing polyrhythms fuel these songs of discovery, transforming them from mere introspection into outright inspiration. Highlights like the sunny glimmer of "The Starting Line" and its slightly moodier cousin "Don't Look Down" crackle with a newfound energy, sounding more like something from Gotye than the earthy chamber pop Pond and his crew are usually known for. Artists with the kind of well-established indie cred Pond has aren't usually lauded for taking a big-budget turn, but the added studio luster really suits this new material and feels less like a departure than an evolution of his sound. Perhaps the album's most revealing moments come in the form of its dueling title cuts that form a dark/light diptych, with the humbly downcast "The State of Gold, Pt. 1" followed five songs later by its brighter half, the stirring "Pt. 2." Within these two songs rages that war against himself, with the genially melancholic Pond of 2010's The Dark Leaves pitted against a more hopeful, or at least contented, man looking for a state of gold.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger