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Matt Pond PA

Just to avoid confusion, let's get this out of the way: Matt Pond PA is a band. Matt Pond is a person, not coincidentally the leader of the aforementioned band. He laid the seeds for the band's formation in the late '90s, when he uprooted and moved from New England (where he had fronted the band Mel's Rockpile) to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Once there, he started recording on a four-track, adding the PA to his name to reflect his new surroundings. Soon the project turned into a mutual admiration society featuring half a dozen additional musicians.

Together, the group creates a winsome but remarkably lush that could be the musical end product of a pensive, lonely singer-songwriter who's discovered a way to clone himself. In other words, Pond has a solitary single-minded vision, but the unique luxury of a full band instead of just an acoustic guitar with which to express it. That unique band features a cellist, a violinist, a flutist, and a French horn player, in addition to the more basic guitar/bass/percussion/keys setup. The depth of Matt Pond PA's instrumentation is the group's most winning trait, transforming Pond's simple, melancholy elegies into shimmering, constantly shifting, multihued tapestries of regret. It's quite strange music if you think too much about it, sort of an uneasy cross between Scott Walker's literate, orchestral baroque pop and The Cure's gloomy goth-pop dirges, but even when overly dissected, it continues to stand as strong, pensively lovely pop music.

The group emerged in 1998 with the much heralded Deer Apartments album. They returned two years later with Measure, featuring "The Hollows." Their third record, The Green Fury, featuring "Canadian Song," was released in January of 2002, and most recently the prolific Pond issued The Nature of Maps in October of 2002, which includes the track "Fairlee."