reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Remember that band you fell in love with in the 90s or early 00s, the one you discovered because they pop-rocked their hearts out at the end of that movie you watched too many times, sometimes at sleepovers, maybe at a couple of birthday parties? PONY’s Facebook bio reads: “The band that would play on a high school roof at the end of a 90s teen movie” and it’s apt. While listening I am thrown back in time — momentarily swept up in the sound of the hair-swinging, guitar-hopping pop that filled my very first MP3 player. I have two words for PONY … Cool beans.
While the EP’s opener “I Don’t Know” truly belongs on a sunshine filled rooftop on the last day of class, it is important to note that PONY has a new take on a genre that evokes those super fly stereotypes. On Do You there is a sensitivity to the internal. “Healthy Brain” cuts right to the chase with the lyrics, “I wanna have a healthy brain. This feeling’s driving me insane. I can’t see anything clear. My head is hazy and I feel lazy.” The song concludes with a wall of instrumentation followed by vocalist Sam Bielanski, alone, repeating those poignant opening lyrics, acknowledging that sometimes a happy ending is harder to come by than it seems.
The album cover photo was taken by Sabrina Scott and makes PONY history as their first non-drawn cover. The box of tissues introduces a theme: despite the dance-ready beats and “glittery power pop” genre, this EP returns repeatedly to heartbreak. “Small Things” paints a picture of an emotional throw down: “I so don’t care if you say you don’t love me anymore,” Bielanski sings, but then, “We crash like waves in the ocean. I am afraid of all my emotion.” The meandering guitar line and snap of the snare brings the turmoil to life. “Monster” is another song fuelled by saltiness, but there is an obsessive love at the heart of it that keeps you on the edge.
Keeping with the nostalgic pop-rock genre and super fun melodies they are known for, PONY have created an album with a double dose of reality check. Do You is — to borrow a phrase from the 90s — all that and a bag of chips. (I’m sorry.)
Top Track: “Small Things”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really good)