Despite only releasing two EPs prior to ‘That’s How The Light Gets In’, Dunedin’s Fazed On A Pony sound uncannily like veterans. 2017’s D’You, in particular, was a plush, tightly orchestrated showing of indie maturity. Lead by the soft vocals of Peter McCall, their bright yet melancholic melodies sounded like they were played by hands belonging to seasoned performers, a credit to the songwriting and performing talents of the band.
This notion is carried into and expanded upon with the band’s most recent release. From start to finish, ‘That’s How The Light Gets In’ is a meticulous indie record that punches way, way above its weight. Opener Natural Toast sets the tone of the album as a whole, epitomised by the fact that, despite its playful guitars, it creates the impression that you are in fact listening to something of great meaning and importance.
Nowhere is this better exhibited than on the closer, Gutter Moon, a perfectly measured piece of indie music, sparse yet dense with feeling. At times reminiscent of acts from the mid-’90s northwest indie scene in the States, in particular Built To Spill, Fazed On A Pony show great skill in making even the most cursory of thoughts seem worthy of serious consideration (“Does a polar bear really care if it lives or it dies/It’s just out on the ice, living its best life”, from Young People).
This correlation with the scene known for birthing acts such as Modest Mouse is also played out in Fazed On A Pony’s understanding of scale. Blue Transporter is a plait of guitars, synths, vocals and drums, pegged to a single melody that is built up and down again in successions. Fixating on that single melody also brings to mind post-rock acts such as Mogwai, blowing away and then easing back in McCall’s vocals to end. ‘Young People’ similarly undergoes a series of advances and retreats, underpinned by a seriously spongey bassline, never overstepping but giving further expression to McCall’s pleas to remain ignorant of the reality of a certain situation.
At no point is ‘That’s How The Light Gets In’ a hard listen. Emotion lies heavy in its every sinew, but rather than feel overwhelmed, it invites you to revel in it. McCall and co. have crafted a record that belies its five tracks and the band’s limited output, and stands tall as an album expertly written and exquisitely performed. McCall may quip on the sprightly ‘Monarch’ that he is unable to sing like Bill Callahan, but what he and his band offer instead is a gorgeous debut EP from an act that sounds like they’ve been perfecting this for years.