Review Summary: The most perfectly named album of the year.Do Whatever You Want All The Time
. It's a perfect album title for Ponytail, practically a manifesto for the Baltimore quartet's rambunctious energy. It also calls to mind a certain carefree joy that fits the group's wicked guitar lines and swooping vocals to a T. It's this exuberance that makes it possible to tolerate these songs' insistently simplistic lyrics, which can occasionally veer into affectedly cute territory. For the most part, Do Whatever You Want All The Time
lives up to its name; from the outset, "Easy Peasy" finds Molly Siegel's Ono-esque yelps of "always out of time / we're running out of time" interlocking with appropriately urgent cascading guitar figures. Over the course of the album's 36-minute runtime, there are several too many instances of Siegel reverting to her wide-eyed "I don't know why" mode (the repeated outbursts of "I know it's not that fun" in "Honey Touches" are practically nauseating), but Dustin Wong and Ken Seeno's expert guitar work more than compensates for these occasional lapses. Besides, it's not as if the words to these songs are meant to be particularly coherent; rather, they verbalize the pure liveliness that is this music's lifeblood.
It makes sense, then, that Do Whatever You Want All The Time
falters only when Ponytail's tendency to let their songs lurch haphazardly feels like a sonic contrivance instead of an organic release. "Beyondersville/Flight of Fance" is filled with vocal samples, disembodied guitar picking, synth drones, and drumming that somehow feels both detached and overzealous. The track goes nowhere and seems to take an eternity to get there, and as the record's centerpiece, it's a marked misfire. These moments are the exception, though, not the rule. Thank goodness for that; Do Whatever You Want All The Time
isn't a groundbreaking or even a particularly memorable record, but it's so likable
that it's difficult to criticize in good conscience. Ponytail aren't really doing anything particularly new here - their cerebral approach to rhythm and melody has been found in superior albums by frequent points of comparison Battles and Deerhoof - but they seem to be having a ridiculously great time rocking out and, well, doing whatever the hell they want. The vigor they project is appealing, infectious, and above all else, inviting. So take a leap into Ponytail's narcotically happy world. Just hang your cynicism at the door.