If you took the Ponys with you to the supermarket, they would tug on the hem of your jacket, wrench off their sneakers, holler, and cram your shopping cart full of chocolate bars and Pringles. Pleading and whining and getting everyone to stare at them, the Ponys would embarrass you, each pathetic sniffle and brazen demand garnering loads of knowing glares from irritated checkout clerks and erstwhile produce-sniffers. But none of this would make you love them any less.
Chicago’s Ponys make booming, suicidal boogie-rock that cites everyone from ’70s L.E.S. punks Richard Hell and the Voidoids to ’60s U.K. garage-pounders the Troggs (with riffs snatched directly from the Rolling Stones circa Steel Wheels). But something about their stoic belligerence and blatant pilfering still feels distinctly Midwestern, and their songs are packed with plenty of blank-faced earnestness and pissy vigor. Rubbery frontman Jered Gummere’s madcap warble bounces and soars, while his bandmates crank out propulsive, bigger-than-the-garage mayhem, the kind of rock and roll that materializes only after all the windows and doors have iced shut and the single most efficient way to keep yourself warm is to curl your arms around an electric guitar and wail the snow away. The Ponys may anoint their tracks with mopey titles like “Let’s Kill Ourselves” (“Sometimes I feel like killing myself/Let’s get together, and kill ourselves”) and “Chemical Imbalance” (“Got a chemical imbalance/Inside of my head/Don’t know what to do about it/Guess I’ll just go to bed”), but their self-flagellation is mostly unconvincing. Desperate and sprawling, Laced With Romance is the perfect post-adolescent tantrum, thrown by four kids who habitually cry, moan, and steal, but always seem to get exactly what they want.
The Ponys play the Siren Festival at Coney Island July 17.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 6, 2004