When a band’s name contains an expletive or some punctuation expressing heightened excitability like an exclamation point, I think it is reasonable enough to assume that the music would be much the same: excited. Take a band like !!!. They aren’t exactly a lounge act. Or Against Me!. They don’t exactly play slow jams. I expected Pony Up! to kind of be the same. This is not to say that name determines everything about a band; it’s just that there are sometimes certain expectations upon a first listen.
While not completely blowing such expectations, Pony Up!’s self-titled release could use a few more tracks like their own “Matthew Modine.” Cheesy rhyming aside, this song is cute, poppy, and anxiously simple. The best track however is an opener called “Shut up and Kiss Me,” a middle school-ish, love/hate tribute to a boy, which lyrically gleams with smartness. Rotating vocalist Laura Wills insinuates lines like “yeah, you’re funny/yeah, you’re cute/but now I’m wishin’ you were stupid” over uncomplicated beats, and light electric guitar strums.
While Pony Up! may be understated in their purpose, they definitely have a little heart shining through. This album is completely under-produced, quaintly encapsulating the sound of a bunch of giggly girls with a notebook and a reason. First impressions aside, Pony Up!’s debut now makes a little more sense. After listening to this album through a couple of times, you just might get it too.