Matt Pond PA caught my ear back in my college days with Measure, an elegant collection of songs released on a tiny Philly label called File 13. On that album, followed in quick succession by two excellent Polyvinyl releases — The Nature of Maps and The Green Fury, both from 2002 — the eponymous songwriter showed that he was a man on a creative streak, an artist who had no reservations about bringing cello and violin into the indierock community, a musician who surrounded himself with a rotating cast of players who could make acoustic guitars and brush drumsticks more invigorating than pedalboards and cranked vintage amps.
Streaks like this often end. Pond’s didn’t. I’ve kept up with his career over the subsequent decade and three-quarters, and his work has maintained a consistently high caliber. Whether you’re talking about the outstanding Several Arrows Later (with its one-two opening punch of “Halloween” into “So Much Trouble”) or the very introspective Dark Leaves LP (which was briefly toyed with as a new band name), all the way up to last year’s Winter Lives and its effervescent single “The Glow,” his records are consistently impressive works. Even the many EPs and one-off singles across the MPPA catalog — 2001’s solemn I Thought You Were Sleeping, the seasonal 2005 outing Winter Songs (dude’s overarching vibe is autumn leaves, the outdoors and snow) 2008’s The Freeep (quite literally, a free EP) and its followup The Threeep — I mean, this is stuff that a lesser artist might use merely as stopgap fillers, as half-assed placeholders, but Pond doesn’t half-ass anything.
Which brings us to the man / the band’s latest, Skeletons and Friends, Pond’s god-dang twelfth full length and a remastered / expanded revisit of a project originally began in 2014. When we were approached about premiering it, it was described as “an in-between album.” And, as I’d expect from Pond, it’s as finished a product as you’ll ever hear. Continue reading →