Like their debut Laced With Romance, the Ponys 'Celebration Castle is an '80s post-punk flashback (obligatory shout-outs to Sonic Youth, early Echo & the Bunnymen and Joy Division) with a little old-fashioned rock & roll noise thrown in for good measure. Swirling, textured guitars contrast whip-smart lyrics that smack of nervous indifference; vocalist Jerod Gummere owes a heavy debt to Punk #1, Richard Hell. The tone can vary wildly: "I'm With You" details a simultaneously self-deprecating and carefree jaunt into the throes of scenester love, while "Shadow Box" is like an extended temper tantrum when the relationship finally goes sour. "Get Black" is summertime: hot, sticky, palpable, a little bit bankrupt—and totally danceable.
The Chicago quartet also pays tribute to jangly, power-driven garage-rock but manages to transcend the terse constraints of their references, embracing sweeping melodies and infectious choruses. But even though the Ponys refer to four decades 'worth of influences, their sound is greater than the sum of their historical parts.