Matt Pond
The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand


2.5
average

Review

by Nathan Flynn CONTRIBUTOR (68 Reviews)
February 5th, 2013 | 7 replies | 1,081 views


Release Date: 02/05/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Worst title ever

In the last few years, the concept of the singer-songwriter has become corrupted. Yes, there are still solo performers; think Iron & Wine, who’s “my car and my guitar” ideologies are undeniable. But, more often than not, it’s performers- Stephen Christian, Dallas Green and Andy Hull all tangible examples- who enjoyed varying amounts of success with more rock-inclined groups that have been breaking into the genre. Even among this group though, Matt Pond stands out. His group, Matt Pond PA, of which he was one of two permanent members, never produced much discussion nor received much exposure aside from their cover of Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” that aired on an episode of “The O.C.” He's far from the new archetype of singer-songwriter side projects.

One could make the argument that dropping the ‘PA’ from his banner is unnecessary, but the truth is that it’s mostly symbolic. The stripped-down sound of The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand is keenly different from the typically powerful drums and guitars that Matt Pond PA incorporated. Flying solo, Pond cedes no part of the spotlight: the focal point is always his vocals. Keyboards are used to accent or introduce, the guitar is frequently relegated to chords played at intervals, although there is a Kinsella-inspired riff on “Love to Get Used,” and the drums are typically apparent only when Pond would be otherwise a capella. Compared to Matt Pond PA, who often experimented with rockabilly and indie-pop, this is a completely different band.

It would be a mistake, however, to call this a minimalist album. Although the music takes a back seat, the soundscape is undeniably lush. The precise timing of certain elements, such as the keyboard motif on “Let Me Live” that sweetens the pre-chorus, is critical to the success of the album. Over the course of the album these little instances- deftly layered vocals in the background here, a perfectly timed piano chord there- begin to add up and perhaps show why Pond was eager to set out on his own. In his group, there were few times where one could appreciate the beauty of just one note. On The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand, the arrangement seems stark at first glance but reveals itself to be surprisingly deep.

Ironically, the music on the album outshines Matt Pond himself- the precise opposite of the intended effect. Pond, who seems to relish being as inoffensive as possible, is very low on charisma. His smarmy delivery and predictable lyrics alike hinder his likeability, and his range is nearly non-existent. When compared to the beauty of the music behind him, Pond is very lackluster- he doesn’t provide the same moments of beauty that the instruments do, only a foreground of samey mumbling. His background vocals, beautiful and intense in their layering, and peppy shouts of “oh!” are some the vocal highlights. Otherwise, Pond sounds his best when he doesn’t sound like himself; the chorus of “Love to get Used” finds him channeling Dallas Green, “Strafford” might be what Bon Iver would sound like if he wrote for a Starbucks commercial.

The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand is a great introductory indie album if nothing else. It conforms to all of the accepted stereotypes of an indie album and doesn’t try to break any new ground, aside from giving Pond a better theater to strut his stuff. It’s very cookie-cutter material, steeped in allusions to nature and long-gone lovers, with technical beauty ultimately proving more important than the man who made it. So, was this worth being released under the Matt Pond banner? Sure, but was it worth making in the first place? Probably not.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
February 5th 2013



9033 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

2.8/5
Also, and first, posted at muzikdizcovery.com

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2013



3341 Comments


great summary

Have a pos, I may give more constructive feedback if time allows but I can't promise

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
February 5th 2013



9033 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Always appreciate it will

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2013



10258 Comments


thanks for reviewing this

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
February 5th 2013



9033 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I got your back

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2013



3341 Comments


Criticism:

. Yes, there are still solo performers, think Iron & Wine,

Hate to be nitpicky, but a semicolon here would probably be better (after performers I mean)

I don't really understand what you mean when you say "the concept of the singer-songwriter has been corrupted." Sure, there's some "holiness" to some guy strumming a guitar and singing along, but isn't a guy like Dallas Green alone a singer-songwriter too? After all, it just means "someone who sings and writes his/her own songs." IMHO, just because you were in a band doesn't mean you can't be a "pure" singer-songwriter. That's just me though I guess. I do think it would have helped if you talked about why, specifically, you didn't like the idea of Matt Pond branching out like he did. And, I suppose, Matt Pond isn't like them - you point that out. But I do feel like if you're going to bring up the intro, you might as well get into it a bit more.

The Lives inside the Lines in Your Hand

inside should be capitalized

is keenly different from the occasionally powerful drums and guitars that Matt Pond PA incorporated.

I don't think "occasionally powerful" really works.

Your third paragraph is excellent. Seriously, if something like that doesn't get you a contrib position I don't know what will. I love the description and the flow.

Pond, who seems to relish in being as inoffensive as possible

"relish," not "relish in"

is very low on charisma, his smarmy delivery and predictable lyrics alike hinder his likeability, and his range is nearly non-existent.

It feels like you can split this up. Normally lists are a little more related than this one, and it could be separate sentences.

Overall really good review, the only part I think could be improved is the intro. I mean, you don't really reference it again after talking about it for a few sentences, and I think you could do a lot with it.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
February 6th 2013



9033 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks a bunch for the feedback! I agree with you about the intro: the reason it stands as is is that I thought it would be a good way to introduce who Matt Pond is, why he's atypical and to introduce the thread of why he isn't Matt Pond PA. I thought I did an alright job of running the solo artist thread throughout but it definitely could have been clearer/better expanded upon. I'll clean up the grammar stuff too. Glad you're looking out for me.



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