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NYPC
NYPC Lucy O'Brien , October 11th, 2013 05:43

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This is the Streamline Moderne version of New Young Pony Club – exuberant, sleek, futurist, with aerodynamic melody lines and locked-down beats. With the departure of keyboardist Lou Hayter and drummer Sarah Jones, NYPC are slimmed down in name and membership. Founder members Ty Bulmer and Andy Spence draw from the spirit of dance punk pioneers like Delta 5 and Bush Tetras to create the driving electronic pop they had always wanted to make.

For their third album, NYPC have moved away from the arch insouciance of debut Fantastic Playground and the more muddled, experimental ether of 2010's The Optimist to form a focused personal statement on love, sex and family history. Bulmer has grown from the cold wave / nu rave hipster of their 2006 hit song 'Ice Cream' to become a woman reflecting with an ironic gaze on gender and relationships. Her lyrics have a tender honesty, and, apart from one instance of rhyming "fire" with "desire", avoid clichés and obvious hooks with scrupulous intensity.

Bulmer and Spence set out to get it right on this record, and that intention is clear from the start. On opener 'Hard Knocks' there is a beauty and functionality to the way they tee up the melody lines and crunchy electro-synth before letting the track drop into deep bass beats and Bulmer's deadpan yet suggestive vocal delivery. Production on previous LPs sometimes lacked confidence, but this album, and this track in particular, has a smooth, minimal kick to it that will stand out on the dancefloor. It's like 'Ice Cream' with a purposeful sheen.

Just when you think this will be a sophisticated reprise of Fantastic Playground, the mood shifts into rich, warm synth chords and awestruck wonderment at finding transcendence in the darkest space. On the rather inaccurately titled Optimist, Bulmer floundered amid feelings of loss and bitterness. Here she finds those feelings again, but is in command of them. A crooning, soulful chorus modulates with ease on stand-out tune 'Things Like You', while on the icy drone of 'I Came Through For You' she observes with cool perception: "You arrange yourself/Like flowers bought for someone else."

NYPC is not an instant album. Many tracks unfurl with repeated listening, as there are startling moments worked into the grooves. Like the trancey steel pan drums and church organ of 'Everything Is' – teasing hints of Bulmer's Trinidadian heritage and her mother's religious sensibility. "Dry your eyes and want for nothing", she sings, abandoning herself to some kind of primal epiphany.

Woven into the cross-currents are echoes of Graham Lewis' solo project He Said, Blancmange's chunky pop, Chris & Cosey's insistent, mesmeric rhythms, and even Gary Numan's 'Cars'. NYPC have always been good at capturing the enthusiasm of that 80s New Pop attitude and combining it with the indie-dance underground. Apart from a couple of straightforward radio-friendly tracks and some atmospheric grooves in search of a song, this album – with its adventurous production, abrupt endings and Bulmer's sweet hard vocals – is NYPC's most complete, and most beguiling record yet.

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