- Pons, Intellect
Pons are pure anarchy. The young trio of Sam Cameron, Jack Parker and newish member Sebastien Carnot, all juniors at the University of Vermont, creates music that truly resists, in many senses of the word. It has no need for order. It thinks order sucks. Furthermore, the group and its manic tunes consistently defy comparison, a noteworthy feat in an oversaturated world.
Pons' debut full-length album, Intellect, is a deluge of froth-mouthed mayhem. It's volatile, bewildering, aggressive, thorny, playful, impenetrable, jagged, exhilarating — I could keep rattling off adjectives until I've exhausted my word count. The songs sound as if they once contained some semblance of convention. But they've been shredded into tiny pieces, liquefied in a Vitamix, locked in a subzero freezer overnight, chipped apart with an icepick and left out on the counter to melt, dripping all over the floor and collecting in puddles.
Pons' music is raw and primal, yet it's also cerebral. They frequently write about thought, perception and consciousness. By naming the LP Intellect — and by brandishing its front cover with a figure clutching its face as its cranium expands to monstrous proportions — they emphasize a fixation on metacognition. The words "head," "thought," "think," "mind" and "brain" repeatedly appear on Intellect. They can't get out of their own heads. (Even their band name refers to a part of the brain.)
"NO SQUID," one of the album's early singles, neatly encapsulates Pons' modus operandi. Lyrics are yelped in hot, anguished flashes, punctuated by herky-jerky riffs and clashing dance beats. The tempo changes — and changes again — as the song lurches forward. Lyrically, the seafaring tune is full of existential dread ("Pulling me down under the sea / Choking on water and I'm trying to breathe"), a recurring theme throughout Pons' canon.
Back-to-back tracks "Jimmy Two-Time" and "Dick Dastardly," two particularly wild inclusions, reference a pair of fictional ne'er-do-wells — Goodfellas gangster Jimmy Two Times and the Hanna-Barbera cartoon villain, respectively. But in Pons' world, are these profiles of real people, pure fantasy or portraits of band members' dark sides? The former cut transforms from loose, ambling slop-rock into first-wave punk. The latter's central feature is a two-and-a-half-minute noise operetta, a grinding cyclone of shrapnel obliterating everything in its path.
"Subliminal Messages" turns an unstable inner monologue into dance-punk perfection. Its lyrics are riddled with societal angst ("You're in my space / I feel uncomfortable," "Subliminal messages enter my head," "Always pressured to consume"), but the track's mechanized disco beats and armada of spiked synths provide stability. It's a four-minute exercise in conflict and contradiction.
Pons continue to be one of the most fascinating local rock groups. Intellect extends the cohesion initiated in their earlier releases. In seemingly setting parameters for what Pons' music can be, the group shows that those parameters are only there to be broken.
Intellect is available at ponsbandofficial.bandcamp.com.