SONGS MEAN ALOT, VOL. 1 Matt Pond PA, “Last Light,” from the album Last Light

mattpondpa.jpgBY JOE WARMINSKY A confession: Although I’m a fellow Keystone Stater, I ignored Matt Pond PA until a few months ago, and I’m not even sure why I decided to listen to Last Light, the long-running band’s 2007 disc. Guilt? Housecleaning? Doesn’t matter. Bingo, voila, whoo, it’s front-loaded with a majestic title track that shoves aside alt-rock’s amorphous, self-conscious present and instead intelligently honors the ancient “120 Minutes” aesthetic: The production is proudly slick; the drums have some of that big ’80s sound; the guitar riffs are firm, but also classically shoegazerish; and the vocals are pushed frontward. And there you’ll find Mr. Pond himself, singing dead-serious lyrics about multiple kinds of twilight: alive/dead, sleep/awake, together/alone and aware/numb (perhaps). “In the end there will be perfect endlessness/When we’re gone, when we’re gone, when we’re gone,” he intones, with no hint that maybe — just maybe — he’s delving into a well-worn topic. And that’s what I love about it: The song just goes for it. And it has a few other interesting quirks: The verses seem to cover a lot of philosophical ground, but the chorus is totally in-the moment. Instead of building to a revelation, Pond reverts to a startling instant:

You bolted straight upright
You thought that sleep was dying
You thought it was your time to give into the endless night
No you were not right
And I said no it’s not
There really is enough
It might just be too much
In a couple weeks, twenty hours or in ten minutes

I see it this way: Sometimes our simple existence can be flat-out scary. Add some uneasy sleep on top of that, and a mild muscle twitch or a drowsy flash of regret can be an alarming thing. Anyway, my brain tends to put “Last Light” in the same category as “Insignificance” by the Mekons. Maybe it’s the key or the chords or the tempo or the tone. Dunno. They broadly share a topic, I guess.

So for the inaugural edition of SONGS MEAN ALOT, download “Last Light” directly from Pop Cesspool. Per the wishes of the band, it’ll be available through May 8, 2008:

Matt Pond PA, “Last Light” (mp3)

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