By David Beech
February 13, 2013
Matt Pond previously of Matt Pond PA (a collective of sorts) has opted to strike out on his own in his latest foray: The Lives Inside the Lines In Your Hand. However, solo or not, this is familiar territory for those who have heard anything from the singer/songwriter’s previous outings.
The Lives Inside… is quite possibly the most inoffensive album I’ve listened to this year; take that as you will. There are obvious comparisons to make here including a number of popular American artists at the moment such as Bon Iver, Iron & Wine and Dallas Green. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just don’t expect any of the innovative diversity that was so lucid on Pond’s collaborative efforts.
Lyrically the album treads a well-travelled path, and wears it’s heart fully on it’s sleeve. While it avoids being a complete cliché, the lyrics are at times predictable but this is a step in a more accessible direction for Pond so that can be justified (kind of). The album also borrows quite heavily from other bands; ‘When The Moon Brings the Silver’ could be taken from any album The Shins have ever recorded whilst ‘Starlet’ sounds like a camp Gaslight Anthem.
‘Human Beings’, however, is a particular highlight. The song begins with an air of melancholy, with Pond’s voice sounding especially fraught during the chorus. The song takes a more optimistic turn towards the end with guitar that harks back to the early days of Matt Pond PA.
‘Love to Get Used’ is also a stand out track. The guitar throughout the intro and verse is derivative of any Kinsella project, particularly Joan of Arc or American Football, which doesn’t hurt the song any. The chorus however is as uplifting as it is radio-friendly. Sounding not dissimilar to the more upbeat side of Dallas Green.
This isn’t a bad album by any means. It’s just not as realised as Pond perhaps thinks. The final two tracks on the album, titular track ‘The Lives Inside The Lines In Your Hand’ and ‘Strafford’ respectively soar and don’t quite reach the heights they aimed for, Coming off as pretentious rather than anthemic, particularly the former. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend The Lives Inside the Lines In Your Hand. Its highlights are certainly worth hearing. Perhaps it’s wise not to go in with expectations raised too highly.