Neither post-punk nor garage rock, the Ponys' sound gallops somewhere in between. But instead of half-assed hybrid, the Chicago foursome's new disc, Celebration Castle, comes across as a smooth synthesis of icy echoes and blood-boiling flux. Last year's Laced With Romance was exactly that. But Castle goes even further, steeping itself in heavy breathing and rapid heartbeats as it mates Echo and the Bunnymen's bleak psychedelia with Television's twitchy intricacy. And while the young group manages to shrewdly mask its more obvious influences, there's no denying the inspiration behind "We Shot the World": The bass line cannily rewrites the signature riff from Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," even as singer/guitarist Jered Gummere gulps the line "You know they'll never tear us apart." But beneath all the blatantly plastic emulation, there are still plenty of scraped-raw blues riffs and sultry, bone-quaking rhythms. Bring on the dancing horses.
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