Turn the Lights Out
How does one graduate from sweaty-palmed teen to dignified adult without suffocating on the stale air of respect and stilted decorum? It is this question that inevitably faces all of the finest indie rock bands. Most disband before finding a reasonable answer. Then we have The Ponys, who have reached the age when a career might actually be in the mix. Turn the Lights Out is a great piece of garage rock. Louder and more adventurous than 2005’s Celebration Castle, the album stops short of the novel dynamism of their astonishing debut platter. But forgive the “first album is the best!” clichés, and note that The Ponys’ energy and inventiveness has never been more sharply evidenced than on “1209 Seminary,” which features Jared Gummere crooning some odd romantic notions of the city as if the world were an ear for his wistful tongue to glaze. It’s a sweet, breezy moment, a softer American cousin to The Jam’s “In the City” that powerfully captures the feeling of what it means to be young. And really isn’t that what the best rock ’n’ roll manages to do anyway?