If I’ve learned one thing in the ten years that Matt Pond PA has been making music, it’s that I can handle the band’s work in small doses. The length of the twenty-minute If You Want Blood EP makes all the difference. It was over before I had the chance to give up on it.
If You Want Blood, a curiously aggressive title for this tender, melancholy, chamber-pop outfit, serves as the interval between 2005’s Several Arrows Later and the quintet’s upcoming full-length, Last Light, scheduled to hit the shelves in late September. It opens with “Reading,” a determined extension from the 2005 full-length whose progressive chords grow a bit redundant and heavy-handed. “Magic Boyfriend,” the catchiest of the bunch, is equipped with a banjo and swanky guitar hooks and quickly shifts the pace as Pond sings, “Need a magic boyfriend, you want a magic boyfriend, someone who understands.”
The sustained, oblique feedback and keyboard of the EP’s best song, “Everything Until the East Coast Ends,” drew me in, and eerily optimistic words of longing brought out the true connection this album was striving for: “Everything there is for me, I want you to want for me/ These images are for you/ I wanted you to see them too/ in the light./ Hold them up in the light.” The emotion, created by some of the finest lyrics on the album, is promptly detached in the forgetful “If You Live.”
“If You Want Blood” closes the EP with an enduring pulse under restfully submissive verses — a pattern that seems to be how Matt Pond PA functions best. This attempt at one last shot of liveliness wasn’t quite enough to bring this EP to its feet.