Review by Dom Vigil
Matt Pond PA swap folky acoustics for electronics and poppy choruses with their new full-length, The State of Gold, and the result couldn’t be better. Released just in time for the ten year anniversary of one of the band’s most beloved albums, Several Arrows Later, this album sounds nothing like any of the releases preceding it, but not in a bad way. Opening with the inspirational sounding synth-driven track “More No More,” The State of Gold promises to bring change, and plenty of it. But even in the new sounds, The State of Gold also holds true to the sound that many fans have fallen in love with on Matt Pond PA’s older material. As a whole, The State of Gold is a great balance of both old and new.
Following the synth heavy opening “More No More” is a more simple song, “There Were Times,” which brings us back to Matt Pond PA’s roots of beautiful, simple acoustics and moving vocals. Then, right before you get too comfortable, “Take Me With You” comes in and blows expectations out of the water. Easily one of the strongest songs on the album, “Take Me With You” feels like a step forward for Matt Pond PA. With a vibe very similar to U2, this song is beautiful, moving and even inspirational, especially when the stunning vocal harmonies come in at the chorus.
Another high point in The State of Gold is “The Starting Line,” which hooks you immediately with a catchy melody that is sure to get stuck in your head. This song is perfect for summer (as is much of this album) and again, it has that motivational, inspirational mood that many of the other songs on the album share.
“The State of Gold Pt. I” goes back to Matt Pond PA’s roots a bit again, opening with simple acoustic guitar and remaining rather folk with a hint of pop throughout the entirety of the track. Even in the more acoustic songs like “The State of Gold Pt. I,” though, the same positive and uplifting mood from the rest of the album remains, making it honestly just an easy listen. It’s hard not to smile or at least bob your head along with “The State of Gold Pt. I.”
“Four Eyes,” another high point, just feels like summer. This track is warm and pleasant, easy to listen to with fuzzy vocals, pretty guitar work and a strong beat. And the cool part? “Four Eyes” is completely different than “The State of Gold Pt. I,” yet neither song feels forced, out of place, or unnecessary. Matt Pond PA have truly done an incredible job by letting their sound progress without taking it too far or not far enough.
Change is a good thing, and Matt Pond PA have embraced it with open arms with The State of Gold. Closing out the album are “The State of Gold Pt. II” and “Spaceland,” which end it on a very strong pop/folk note. “Spaceland,” much like “The State of Gold Pt. I” has many elements that drew fans to Matt Pond PA years ago, but with a new twist that will keep them around and wondering what this group will do next. Matt Pond PA have proven that change isn’t always a bad thing with The State of Gold - this album is a hit.
Listen to "Take Me With You"