Truly original music is always better than a pastiche -- unless, that is, the truly original music chomps and the pastiche is particularly inspired. Such is the lesson taught by the Ponys, a Chicago quartet that sucks up influences from across the width and breadth of the indie era, then spits them back out again with twisted aplomb. Laced With Romance, a new full-length issued on L.A.'s In the Red imprint, kicks off with "Let's Kill Ourselves," whose ominous title is echoed by lyrics such as "I'm full of rage/The song of violence sings inside of my mind." But thanks to the peppy caterwauling of lead singer Jered Gummere and the post-goth sonics of bassist Melissa Elias, drummer Nathan Jerde and multi-instrumentalist Ian Adams, the track is catchy and danceable, not mopey and dour -- and the rest of the disc follows suit. Gummere's previous band was called the Guilty Pleasures, and that phrase pretty much sums up the Ponys' appeal. When they're playing, uniqueness seems highly overrated.