The Vancouver band Ponytails has a lot going for it. It was produced by Felix Fung in the prolific East Hastings studio, Little Red Sounds. Ponytails only formed in March 2016 and just nine months later they’ve released their first EP.
Their self-titled EP opens with the buzz of a harmonica, followed by twangy bass and guitar in the song “Young Hearts.” Abruptly, the drums kick in and the guitar takes on a surfer rock tone. A monotonous bass line leads the charge of the next song on the EP, “Despair.” Reverb tinges the instruments and vocals — a light scuffing to make the sound a bit less polished. Yet, their talents show through the distorted surface.
“Pieces” and “Old Ways” share the glittery, high pitched guitar sound of old surfer rock. These tracks are probably the strongest of the EP. Interesting guitar riffs, distant-sounding vocals, and crashing, high energy choruses are what separates the band from being just another indie band.
“Love To You” is the EP’s slow, romantic song. The cymbals dawdle in the back as the guitar carves out a more complex pattern and the vocals moan. The lyrics are a bit too direct for my taste. The vocalist repeats, “I just want to feel more of you / And I can’t wait to make love to you.” The song has such a sentimental tone, yet the lyrics are a bit crass. However, the vocalist seems authentic.
The last song, “Next Time” leads with bass, and after a few beats, features the whole ensemble crashing in together. “I’m so so sorry / for all those days / I put you through,” vocalist Harvey Merritt sings. The narrator recounts where he went wrong in a past relationship, and reflects on how it affected his partner.
The themes of getting older and ruminating on relationships aren’t revolutionary, and the sound isn’t remarkably distinct from other indie acts in Vancouver or elsewhere. However, none of it is particularly unlikeable. Their take on surfer rock is interesting. It has notes of ‘60s bands like Surfaris and The Sandals. In the local context, they’re situated somewhere between the indie pop of Winona Forever and the grit of Eric Campbell and The Dirt. Altogether, they fill a niche that could really set them apart. I hope they chose to accentuate the surf vibe in future endeavors. After all, as long as there’s a foundation of true skill, experimentation will be the next stage.