Ponytail, Do Whatever You Want All The Time

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 04.11.11 in Reviews
Harnessing and unleashing manic, pre-verbal bliss

Ponytail is the sound of 50 million first-graders dressed head-to-toe in Day-Glo, guzzling Pixie Stix while jumping on trampolines and screaming their heads off. More than any other band, the Baltimore quartet has figured out a way to harness and unleash a kind of manic, pre-verbal bliss. Vocalist Molly Siegel yelps and yips and chatters, and her mad rambling and giddy, pinwheel-eyed ululations are perfectly suited to her band's gonzo rush of guitars. Ponytail's songs exist in those thrilling half-seconds before anticipation gives way to payoff. They always seem to be building and building and building, but they never fully release — bright pink jet planes hurtling down the runway in a panic instead of easing calmly into midair. More than its predecessor, the candy-cane freakout Ice Cream Spiritual, Do Whatever takes a few game lunges at melody. "Honey Touches" finds Ken Seeno and Dustin Wong swapping their dizzy guitar curlicues in favor of honest-to-goodness, crystal-clear linear melody; Siegel, not to be outdone, tries to settle down, too, having a go at an actual English phrase. But the words she sings say it all: "I know it's not that fun!" A split second later, it's back into yammering euphoria.