Even with dozens of LPs, EPs and singles credited to Matt Pond PA, The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hands is like a solo record of sorts. The band’s bearded namesake has long left his native northern New Hampshire. He’s moved past his Bearsville, N.Y. album-in-an-abandoned-cabin hideaway. And most importantly, Matt Pond has shed the Pennsylvania state abbreviation he’s held onto for nearly a decade. So on his own, with a new name and a new label, Matt Pond offers for The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand—a record that reveals a new side of the singer/songwriter that, in fact, is remarkably and comfortingly familiar.
Almost half of the tracks on Lives were previously released in other forms, which helps contribute to its familiarity. “Love to Get Used” and “Human Beings” appeared on the 2011 EP Spring Fools. Additionally, stripped-down version of “Love to Get Used,” “Starlet” and “Hole in My Heart” served as teaser tracks on the Lines EP that dropped earlier this year. “Love to Get Used,” the first single off Lives, moves in decidedly more refined, refreshing ways compared to its raw predecessors. Likewise, the rolling rat-a-tat snare hits in the LP rendition of “Hole in My Heart” propel the track—yearning, yet, determined—to new places.
And yet, Pennsylvania remains not in his band’s name, but in Pond’s songs. The album closer, “Strafford,” a short, beautiful song that sounds like it’s played on a lightly distorted resonator and laced with distant bells and strings, is seemingly a nod to a small community in the southeastern part of the state. It would be ignorant to say that PA hasn’t shaped Pond, a man who has sustained a lengthy career simply by consistently producing honest indie pop. It’s especially apparent on Lives, however, that PA no longer defines Matt Pond or his music.