Ponytail - Do Whatever You Want All The Time

Album cover
Indie Rock/Alternative, Post-Punk
We Are Free Records
Ponytail
Do Whatever You Want All The Time
Ponytail - Do Whatever You Want All The Time Review rating:
3.5
User rating:
Average: 4 (1 vote)

What is in a song? Obviously there are basic building blocks, general schemes which to follow and a history to learn from. But one of the constant aspects of music as an art form that allows it to evolve is the ease with which it is broken down. I do not mean so much as notes and stanzas or even melody and harmony—more so the idea of what makes tangible, legitimate “music.” As it is in many other art forms, rarely is great change brought about by a single entity or person; music could attest to following in this line. Granted there are always exceptions and not to plant Baltimore based art-rockers Ponytail on any precipice of such height; I mention this more so as a general-definition of the free-wheeling philosophy the quartet has always taken to their songwriting.

One of their closest comparisons would be a less-synthy Deerhoof, as both tend to produce frantic guitar-rock fronted by an extremely unique vocalist. Ponytail generally create more sprawling songs as compared to Deerhoof's short ditties. With guitarists Dustin Wong and Ken Seeno complimenting each other with their high-flying riffs in post-rock progressions and drummer Jeremy Hyman only breaking from his jerky stop-start fills for a militaristic pulse. Yet what has always been the bands “ace in the hole” so to speak, is their spastic vocal-dynamo Molly Siegel. Equal parts Bjork quirks, Karen O growls and barely coherent Byrne-esque sing-speak ramblings; she has monumental presence on record. This is saying a lot considering how much the production buries her in the fray and seemingly always has—the boys around her might be throwing fits but Siegel is the brunt of the storm.

“It just keeps going and going/I thought I was there but/I’m not, so/I think I’m just gonna stay here/Oh, it’s alright!/No, it’s okay!” Sigel yelps as Wong and Seeno noodle around her and Hyman’s tempered pace on "Honey Touches." Seemingly asserting her comfort of position Molly affirms once more the well-known doctrine by which Ponytail have had so much success: satisfaction is what you make of it, remember to enjoy everything. This child-like wonder Ponytail beams with when concerning their music, both on record and in concert, is undoubtedly the key strength that makes their expansive avant-pop so appealing. Do Whatever You Want All The Time is not lax for the same wide-eyed ambition. It basically seeps from the record once the excellent opener “Easy Peasy” takes off. This aspect of their music more than any other makes it a chore to simply not give in to all the fun they are having. Siegel may be doing little more than administering calculated yelps and burst of blood-curdling screams with her barely-sung anecdotes—but she molds perfectly to the clusterfuck of ADD pop music engulfing her you cannot help but bop along with her.

It does not hurt that she frequently kills it live but it is not like there is a piss-poor supporting cast. Do Whatever You Want All The Time is the band’s third record and most “straight-forward” to date but it is still overflowing with Ponytail’s mix of technical chops and quirky hooks. Hyman is still lightning-fast as he toys with complicated rhythmic patterns and flexes between various time signatures. Couple that with the near-spiritual axe-battle between Wong and Seeno and Molly has a lot to work with here, but what is really impressive is just how well it always comes together.

When the band moved from the sythy-punk of their debut Kamehameha (2006) to the more guitar-oriented excellence of their sophomore effort Ice Cream Spiritual (2008) the world seemed to have opened wide for them. As far as the possibilities for evolution—they had then, and still possess now, a very unique sound; Do Whatever You Want All The Time continues their wonderful track record. Finding a balance between their previous two records and honing their keys and synthesizers as opposed to relying on them (“Beyondersville/Flight of France” being the best example) Ponytail has taken a huge stride in the right direction. That is, down the path into a mature albeit exciting guitar-rock band who can work on the verges of accepted “pop music” as adeptly as they can fulfill Rock n’ Roll sensibility. Now let us just hope we do not need to wait another three years for more output from a band still very much worth being excited for.

1. Easy Peasy
2. Flabbermouse
3. Honey Touches
4. Beyondersville/Flight of France
5. AwayWay
6. Tush
7. Music Tunes

There are at least two artists by the name Ponytail.

1) Ponytail is a noise rock band which formed in Baltimore, Maryland, United States in 2005. The band consists of Molly Siegel (vocals), Ken Seeno (guitar), Dustin Wong (guitar) and Jeremy Hyman (drums). They have released three albums, “Kamehameha” (2007), “Ice Cream Spiritual” (2008) and "Do Whatever You Want All the Time" (2011).

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Batman
Batman says... "Taking Back Sunday composes their music first, then the lyrics."

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