Fantastic Playroom – New Young Pony Club (2007)

Fantastic Playroom cover art
Fantastic Playroom cover art

One of the great (and bad) things about finding a band that’s new to you on the internet is the inevitable wondering why you never heard of them before. If they were particularly entertaining, you could end up feeling a bit cheated by time. This was the bittersweet sensation I had after coming across the London based new wave revivalist  New Young Pony Club (NYPC).

One of the things that struck me first about this band’s 2007 debut LP Fantastic Playroom was how playful and rhythmic it was. Being labeled a new wave revivalist band could be limiting, so on purpose each of the band’s members chose not to lean too much on one style or influence, instead capturing the essence of a period as opposed to one or two of it’s stars.

That is part of what makes NYPC interesting. Where a band like Interpol recalls a narrow range of post new wave rock, NYPC’s influences are much broader but can be pegged as something between the playful LA bands of the 80s like Missing Persons to the more gruff post punk of Blondie or Gang of Four.

The revivalist label in this case also means that the band is made up of real musicians. NYPC recalls that period in new wave pop where the standard bass, drum and guitar accented with keyboards was the norm. It’s a sound that stresses robotic vocal treatments and more importantly a strong rhythm section on songs like “Jerk Me”, “Tight Fit” and nasty bass on “Fan”.

All of these qualities were displayed on the album’s biggest hit “Ice Cream”. That song like many on Fantastic Playroom lived a successful half-life a year or more earlier as a single before ending up on their first LP.

Despite the long gestation in putting together a full length album, all of the tracks on Fantastic Playroom manage to sound like they were written at the same time. The overall dance-able light tone has none of the dark and foreboding that’s usually associated with early new romantic era pop. That might well be because dance music was a common interest among the bands members. Lead by Tahita Bulmer on vocals and Andy Spence on guitar, NYPC’s roster has changed over the years with Bulmer and Spence being the only constants.

With nearly every song on Fantastic Playroom being dance-able and often witty in that ‘80s kind of way. This fun and clever debut makes me want to hear what their two albums sound like, the last being NYPC from 2013. Long live those Internets and the art of late discoveries.

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