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How did they not take over The World? The sublime synth-pop of New Young Pony Club.

How did they not take over The World? The sublime synth-pop of New Young Pony Club.

Sometimes it's not how good you are, or what you do or who you know. Sometimes you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It was hard to believe I was in the wrong place and time that Friday night. Above a pub, I think in Hoxton (I know, I know), was an OK sound-system in a very small room.  How many people? 100? Maybe a few more.  The briefest of sound-checks and we're off and running and I was expecting the sound quality to be awful - I was mostly expecting not to be able to hear the pocket-sized front-woman Tahita Bulmer; drowned out by the girl-drummer (Scott Pilgrim reference, high-five), tall synth-player who looked like a henchman from a Bond film, permanently smirking but gorgeous keyboardist, and a bassist with an especially fine mustache and ever-present, irrepressible, grin.

Then she started singing.  Some bands, for some reason, never sound as good on recordings as they do live, and some singers who only ever sound really good on recordings sound fucking amazing live.  And she was one of those.

Music video by New Young Pony Club performing Ice Cream. (C) 2006 Modular Recordings under exclusive license to Universal Music Australia Pty Limited

Not just born to sing, but an incredible front-woman.  Mesmeric and effortless.  Immediately at one with the music and a magnetic focal-point for the audience.  She was something else.

Shitty quality and not even in the right ratio, that video above.  Proof, if proof be needed, that they hit the scene far too early.  But still, if you want an example of how to do an unabashed blinder of an electro-pop song - here it fucking is.  It's glorious.

The highest that tune ever got was No.40 in the UK charts.  And that was a re-release.

Maybe they were one-hit wonders and didn't have enough decent tunes to generate enough attention?

Music video by New Young Pony Club performing The Bomb. (C) 2006 Modular Recordings under exclusive license to Universal Music Australia Pty Limited

There's more.  Get Lucky, The Get Go.  The album was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Music Prize.  I mean, for fuck's sake.

Bands do sometimes decide to take off in different directions between albums.  Was the one NYPC took next inspired by the lack of chart success or artistically did they want to develop and try something new?  The follow-up album "The Architect" was certainly more sophisticated and more polished in it's production, but it's not much fun.

I can't help but feel that if they'd appeared a year or two later then things would have been different - that whole electro-pop thing was properly in full swing by then.  Or maybe the problem was that they were too advanced for the pop-chart kids and they were too pop for the older crowd.  I don't know. A year or two later would have made it easier to connect with an audience on the internet; that whole thing got much more advanced pretty quickly.

They still make music.  The two main members, and writers, and the original drummer (who also drums for some of the coolest bands around) are still together and still make music.  Their last album got an OK review in The Guardian.  The keyboardist wasn't exactly a great loss and released some truly awful music on her own, as did the original bassist. 

So, they're still going and experiencing some measure of success.  But if you'd seen them back in the day, in a small venue where you could have reached out and touched them, you'd have sworn they were going to take over the world.

Jack Ince

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