I am convinced that an enduring marriage is a nigh impossible hope for this generation, conditioned by instant gratification and pleasure. The ideas of patience or long suffering, as it used to be translated in the Good Book, are vital for long term commitment but lacking in the everyday life of the generation currently dressing up for big expensive days that are more about romance than the “til death do us part” life promises of faithfulness.
What has that to do with a review of a new Tired Pony record? I would suggest everything! This collection of songs, which some reviews have described as a concept album based around a couple of characters who appeared on the first Tired Pony record, is about a relationship that has gone through my pessimistic realism above and left the debris of broken hearts. It seems that most of it is one man’s trawl through his regret at what has been and his ultimate failure to move on. And yet, in these songs of hopeless heartache he discovers and lays out what love might really be about.
I have always found Gary Lightbody’s lyrics a fascination and enjoyed couplets like those strewn this collection: -
“These memories form a choir and they sing to me” (Your Way Is The Way Home)
“There’s not a closing bell/There’s just an awkward glance” (The Beginning Of The End)
“The foot crunched snow/And there’s a lifetime in the space between our steps” (The Ghost Of The Mountain)
“Am I talking to myself because it wouldn’t be the first time” (Carve Our Names)
The songs are strong too. I Don’t Want You As A Ghost and All Things All At Once are as durable-radio-accessible as Chasing Cars and Run in my opinion. The former sets out the thesis that goes array: “I don’t want you as a ghost/I don’t want you as a fading light/I don’t want to be the weight you carry/I just want to be the man you come home to... every night.” I have blogged already about the latter with its lines, “It’s not one thing or another/It’s all things all at once” as a prophetic phrase into Northern Ireland up and coming Haass talks.
Moving locations to Topanga Canyon has certainly given The Ghost Of The Mountain a sunnier Californian sound, almost a contradiction to the subject matter, than the downtown Portland of their debut The Place We Ran From. There is more electric edge and the wonderful harmonies give it that wider bigger sky feel. That fuller band sound will give rise to the accusations that it is too much like Snow Patrol and indeed you can almost see Nathan play the guitar on Punishment. Mind you, Fallen Empires was as influenced by The Place We Ran From as this is by Fallen Empires. I’d see it more like that brother who is different enough from his sibling to have his own identity but the similarities are strong nonetheless. I would like to have seen more of the other all star cast. It is very much a Lightbody record. We know that he is a prolific writer. He has had his Reindeer Section and put together the Cake Sale project in the past. There is maybe just a need on Volume 3 to give the others in this all star cast a little room. Iain Archer’s I Am A Landslide on the first record was a real success. More please!
All in all it might be the audience that differs. Where Snow Patrol is for the youthful stadium going masses, Tired Pony is for the older, smaller venue connoisseurs. Which brings us back to that more mature handle on love.