Our ears make a lot of decisions for us. They tell us if what we’re hearing is in tune, if we can dance to it or if it warrants a second listen.
A painting that visually tricks the observer is said to employ a technique called “trompe-l’oeil,” French for “deceive the eye.” On Pony’s latest single, “Waiting for the Day,” released on Aug. 3, the sleek South Korean indie-pop group manage to “deceive the ear.” The song succeeds by walking a line between lo-fi fuzz and well-produced, albeit unexpected, tidiness.
While Pony’s roots begin in 2009 with their post-punk-influenced debut album, they’ve moved through a series of reinventions culminating in their most recent release “I Don’t Want to Open the Window To the Outside World,” including those put forth on “Waiting For The Day.”
In the song’s opening moments, our ears are already racing to make certain claims about what we’re hearing. We hear the sound of two acoustic guitars being given a jaunty workout, locking into a bluesy tandem pairing. The sound quality isn’t polished; it sounds almost like it could be a field recording. This conception is wiped away almost immediately. A dry, uber-simple drum machine pattern joins our guitars, accompanied by a melodic, equally arid synthesized bassline.
Through this production bait-and-switch, we realize that our ears were doing shoddy detective work. What we were hearing wasn’t nearly as intimate or organic as we thought. As the song progresses, we discover even more artifice–those guitars aren’t even being played throughout the song, they’re simply looped!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.
It’s this sort of modern, technology-driven songwriting that keeps our brains active as listeners. Plus, Pony brings these elements together to make for a wholly pleasant slice of electronic pop.
The only two other layers that added to the overall mix of “Waiting For The Day” are a squiggly keyboard lead and some unhurried vocal harmonies. The only variation comes from the creative removal and re-introduction of these factors. The parts are all neatly discrete, allowing for plenty of room even when all of them are combined.
At two-and-a-half minutes, “Waiting For The Day” is short, but effective. In the end, there’s enough of a payoff that the listener doesn’t feel deceived at all, but rather, quite satisfied.
Watch the music video for the Pony song “Waiting For The Day” RIGHT HERE
Jeff Tobias is a composer, musician and writer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. As of late, he has been studying arcane systems of tuning and working on his jump shot.