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See You Happy

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Album Review

Ponies in the Surf emerged in 2004 with A Demonstration, an EP whose charm resided in the subtle and electric dynamic between siblings Camille and Alexander McGregor. See You Happy, the duo's third release and debut on Darla Records, is a two-disc affair featuring newly rehashed versions of old favorites and a second disc comprised of covers and oddities. Given the sheer amount of old and new material found here, See You Happy has the feel of a "real" debut long-player. The most striking thing about See You Happy is how it sounds; the Ponies have essentially ditched their stripped-down sound of four years ago in lieu of lush, retro instrumentation. They sound like a more laid-back Saturday Looks Good to Me, or like an Aislers Set with a sweet samba beat. It's just plain different, and those who came to know and love the Ponies via their debut EP might reel at the full-bodied sound they've adopted, especially when it comes to the album's title track, which previously appeared on A Demonstration. "See You Happy" felt like sweet, simple pop perfection on that disc, so it comes as somewhat of a shock to hear this new, sepia-toned version, full to the brim with instrumental whorls and flourishes. But once the shock wears off, the whole transformation actually feels rather nice. "Sweet and Low," which appeared in prototypical form on their debut EP, and "Ventricle," another standout track from that disc, absolutely glow with their new instrumental flourishes. There are loads of good Ponies action to be had here, but the best tracks are ultimately those that nod to the duo's sweet and simple beginnings; "Bad Crowd" and "João" harbor the kind of lilting, intimate magic that made the duo's debut worthwhile. The McGregors are ultimately at their best when their dynamic isn't overpowered by too many musical ideas.

Biography

Formed: 2003 in Boston, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Camille and Alexander McGregor grew up in Bogota, Colombia, which is where Alexander claims he first became interested in music. He and Camille used to spend their days at their grandfather's restaurant, where they would listen to the house organist play for hours on end. "In retrospect, I know now he played a high form of Muzak," Alexander said. "But at the time all I knew is we'd feel very proud if one of us could recognize a song or motif he played...that felt like an accomplishment." The two...
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See You Happy, Ponies In The Surf
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