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Matt Pond PA
EMBLEMS
(Altitude)

The PA stands for Pennsylvania, which is fitting for a guy who named his buzz-building 2002 album The Nature of Maps. That release was Pondís last for the renowned Illinois label Polyvinyl and his last before moving from Philly to NYC, where he assembled an all-new crew of back-up musicians.

Despite all the changes, this soft-rocker hasnít lost any of his momentum: Emblems is full of his trademark sharp wit and breezy melodies. Heís fond of making thematic connections: the electro-tinged sing-along "Closest" is related not only to the autumnal "Close (KC Two)" but also to Mapsí "Closer." And "Close (KC Two)" itself completes the tender love story that begins with the opening "KC": "Thereís no way to the heart better than awkwardly/In Canada on New Yearís Eve." The singer gets nostalgic for his childhood home on the gorgeous "New Hampshire," and "Summer (Butcher Two)" paints a vivid portrait of teenage lust over a frisky groove that recalls the Smashing Pumpkinsí "1979." Emblems is a lilting rock travelogue that Shins and Death Cab fans canít afford to miss.

(Matt Pond PA performs this Wednesday, June 23, at the Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; call 617-562-8800.)

BY SEAN RICHARDSON


Issue Date: June 18 - 24, 2004
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