Imagine Matt Damon driving through Boston, Mass., going up and over the hills in that little red car at the end of “Good Will Hunting.” Take that image, throw in extra fall leaves and a cello. That’s Matt Pond PA. With the creative pliability of Play-Doh, the band’s latest, Several arrows later showcases their genre-shifting sound in satisfying fashion.

Born out of Philadelphia, frontman Pond and his band craft pretty little chamber-pop ditties that can only be described as autumnal. Several arrows later – a perfect release for October – is a soundtrack for a season; it’s mellow and evocative. Pond’s lyrics are paired with juicy violin- and cello-based melodies. “It Is Safe,” with its moody Spanish guitar segueing into piano and strings, conjures wet fall days longing for past summers.

Pond connects with his inner Walt Whitman: “Lying in the sand / I fall asleep / Dream of the summer / When we’d slip behind the pool and go with nature.” Album opener “Halloween” is a babe of a track, with tinkling piano echoing the chorus and a raw-silk cello strain. The rustle of fingers on frets is appropriate and subtle; it’s more Beatles’ “Blackbird” than Extreme’s “More Than Words.”

With lush, sounds-simpler-than-it-is music, it’s tempting to classify Matt Pond PA as “indie-pop.” Comparisons to their peers are difficult to avoid as well.

“The Trees and the Wild” could be a lost Spoon song – just minus Britt Daniel and a fitted shirt. “The Moviegoer” is The Strokes transplanted to New England, a sort of “Last Nite” at Walden Pond.

At the same time, Bright Eyes fans and emo kids could easily pick up Matt Pond PA, as could James Taylor folkies and Yo-Yo Ma followers. Certain key moments – the frenetic drums on “From Debris” pushing along the orchestral strain before the bridge, the multiple-tracked vocal on closing “Devil In the Water” – makes the listener wish guys like Pond and Brendan Benson could finally knock down that next-big-thing barrier. The album shows that the band has the ability; next time they have to maximize it.


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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