THE PONYS They don't wanna die anymore.
The Ponys
Wed August 10
Doug Fir Lounge
830 E Burnside

The Ponys care. Yes, the same Ponys who no more than a year ago were gleefully singing "Let's Kill Ourselves" and "I Love You 'Cause (You Look Like Me)" on their In The Red debut, Laced With Romance. Today, it seems that the Ponys want not only to succeed, but to be remembered as something more than the seasonally rotated "band to watch" in glossy music monthlies. Surely, had they followed up that well-received album with another snotty, drug-savvy slice of guitar sleaze and organ squeal, their reputation as one of the most exciting and promising young American bands would be secure. Many a fine band, from The Stooges to Nirvana, have mapped a successful "fuck it all" career path that, had these Chicago garage pop savants chosen it, would have paid for their drinks, rent, and cigarettes for years to come.

But they didn't. They decided to try, and the Steve Albini-produced Glass Conversation is the triumphant result. If the galloping post-punk locomotive opener, "Glass Conversation," isn't enough of a shock for those expecting another Velvets/Stones drug 'n' fuck LP, then try the sprightly guitar pop of "Today"--in which primary singer Jared Gunmere punctuates a familiar poverty-tinged, street level narrative with the thoroughly un-cool and unexpected, "I don't wanna die anymore… I know it's crazy, but I want what's mine." Delivered in his familiar Richard Hell yelp, he contributes something that is so sorely lacking in much of the supposedly emotionally direct genre of garage rock--honesty.

Now, for skeptics who enjoyed Laced With Romance, please don't despair. The Ponys sound no less noisy and menacing than before. In fact, when they unleash their guitars on tracks like "Shadow Box," "Get Black," and the aptly named "Ferocious," there is, at present, no one finer at the aforementioned Velvets/Stones drug 'n' fuck genre. But by tempering such outbursts with a newly improved level of songwriting and lyrical vulnerability, such mayhem is all the more affecting.