NYPCLondon based indie electro brats New Young Pony Club are now just NYPC. The abbreviated name also reflects their reduction from a five-piece band to a duo; original members lead singer Tahita Bulmer and producer Andy Spence remain. They still sound like New Young Pony Club but this, their third album, is by some distance their most accomplished, musical and exciting to date. It seems that the trimming away of excess views and voices has bought about a new-found sonic richness and clarity with a welcomed ability to craft the kind of songs that you always hoped they would make but never quite managed to deliver.

The tough and tantalising opener, “Hard Knocks“, with its wonderfully disorganised lyrics (‘waiting for, hard knocks, the school of, I think you are) is instantly recognisable as the group due to its monotone, perpetually pissed off vocal, heard first in 2009’s omnipresent “Ice Cream”. On NYPC’s first single “You Used to Be a Man” which is a lesson in building, electro minimalism there are multiple harmonies throughout, a middle eight and a melody that will not want to leave your head willingly. ‘Do you understand how hard it is to stand and watch you fall hard?’ goes the cheeky, smartarse hook and although somewhat economic in structure it bears testament to how far their song writing skills have developed over five years.

Sure As The Sun” has humour (‘last night we went to a model home, we thought it was love, it was just a mirage’) funky bass and sheets of electro parps, defining the point where Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club merge. “I Came Through For You” has muted “Planet Rock” style drum machine booms and “Things Like You” relies on the staple Bulmer delivery before it shifts key and, along with Spence, a romantic and wistful, pure pop chorus unexpectedly emerges. Stand-out track “Now I’m Your Gun” with its seductive and assertive plucked synth chords and accordion appearance is sleek and precise. The beautiful and modern electronics, albeit inspired mainly by three decades worth of genre twisting artists and music, are expertly played and gleam throughout the album.

Play Hard” with its hard-nosed, new wave guitar and vocals can be traced back to the B52’s first two completely essential and ground-breaking albums when Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson sang about fish as gifts, dirty back roads and not dancing like cheese; weird and wilfully sexy. The final two minutes of “Everything Is” are pure snapping beats and steel drums which will undoubtedly bring to mind The Knife but NYPC have made something life-affirming and relatable as opposed to the overwhelming impenetrable coolness of the Stockholm duo’s “Shaking the Habitual” album from earlier this year. It’s sad that Bulmer and Spence won’t garner the same amount of media coverage and adulation.  Only on the final track, “L.O.V.E.”, does the steam begin to run out and things start to plod but by this point it is easily overlooked.

At times it felt like New Young Pony Club were more part of an East London ‘fashion slash’ mob rather than a standalone, individual musical entity. Their debut was gimmicky and sounded only half-finished and the (surely) ironically titled “The Optimist” was heavy with something other than tunes and in retrospect the disharmony within the group at that time could have been responsible. NYPC, though, are the sound of artists finally snapping together the crucial matching and previously lost parts forming a new, perfect whole. Streamlined, efficient and pleasure-seeking, it’s a beautiful and intelligent thing.

If you like the thought of the dreamy, synth pop of French duo Air (“Sexy Boy”) mixed with the more angular, detached malaise of London’s  New Young Pony Club (“Ice Cream”) then Tomorrow’s World’s eponymous debut album will be right up your darkly lit, probably by some French auteur, alleyway. This is mainly because Lou Hayter and Jean Benoit Dunckel are in fact the keyboardist in New Young Pony Club and half of Air respectively. Lou Hayter sings with precision and grace on every track here and the whole thing sounds pretty much how you would like it to and expect it to given the artists involved.  

The best tracks certainly recall early, peak period Air along with, and possibly because of, the cross-cultural mix of French and English, the work that they did with Charlotte Gainsbourg. “Life on Earth” is a doppelgänger for Gainsbourg’s “5:55” and the sweet and sour drunkenness of “Pleurer et Chanter”, the only French language song and a definite highlight, could have featured on either of her last 2 albums. “Metropolis” could be from “Moon Safari” and wouldn’t have affected the consistently high quality of Air’s debut album and “Drive” has a guitar lick and kick that immediately recalls Hayter’s work with New Young Pony Club. “You Taste Sweeter” is vocally and sonically early Ladytron to a T (“Sugar” anyone?) and “Don’t Let Them Bring You Down”, a plaintive, piano-led ballad is very Twin Peaks and the kind of song that, this time around, Donna Heyward could have sung to James Hurley whilst simultaneously crying at the Bang Bang Bar.

It’s only on the muddy, crawling “Catch Me” where Hayter, sharing the chorus with Dunckel, pleads ‘Dark Angel, take me away’ that a sound begins to emerge that could be considered as belonging to “Tomorrow’s World” and not referencing their own work or, at least not obviously, that of any other artist. The album ends with the yearning “Inside” which appears to be a tribute to Julee Cruise’s enormously influential “Mysteries of Love” with the final two minutes morphing into a stuttering, repetitive malfunctioning computer that wouldn’t have dared disturb the calm of Cruise’s ballad. It’s a perfect closer and the only other example here of Hayter and Dunckel creating something more unique to them, at least in sound if not content.

Even though the duo are guilty of overusing core elements and sounds lifted from their past work to a greater or lesser degree in almost every track here, this is to a certain degree unavoidable and is also responsible, in part, for creating some of the gorgeous, hazy cinematic passages here which I would strongly urge you to seek out. A few more dark angels though and they’ll have their very own, new, world to inhabit, one I would love to experience.