The debut album from Seattle four-piece Motopony seems to suggest the band struggles with a kind of musical schizophrenia, with the self-titled release unable to settle on any one genre approach for longer than a single song. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, as the group proves itself adept at hazy indie-pop, jangly-guitar rock throwbacks, radio-friendly folk-pop and hushed, weird confessionals.
Frontman Daniel Blue’s wide-ranging, rather eccentric vocals tie the whole affair together, and one certainly isn’t likely to get bored listening to Motopony. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, just wait a minute or two longer. Of course, this can also disappoint, like when the churning, ’70s-style soul/rock mash-up of “Seer” doesn’t get any kind of similar follow-up.
The first four songs on the album display the most distinct genre dalliances, with opener “June” combining a melancholy baroque pop sound with oblique turns of phrase, like “There’s something you should know right here / might not be gay but sure am queer.” The gears shift to single-ready “King of Diamonds,” which pairs agreeable electro-pop with a half-baked love song metaphor about the members of a deck of cards. I fully expect it to accompany a montage in a forthcoming rom-com.
The aforementioned “Seer” comes next and just when it’s danceable sound gets going, it’s usurped by “I Am My Body,” a piano/bass-prominent number with distorted vocals that sounds like something you might hear from Cold War kids.
The rest of the album doesn’t establish as distinct of identities as these openers, which are all rather engaging in completely different ways. Much of the remainder grinds down into downbeat indie-rock, but there are enough nice flourishes — delicate female harmonies on “Wait for Me” and Antony-style emotional theatrics on “Wake Up,” for two — to keep things interesting.
Motopony never coalesces into a forceful, convincing debut album, mostly by virtue of its personality disorder. But despite that, or maybe even because of it, it’s a pretty fantastic companion and foretells success for the band if they do decide to hone their sound. They’ve definitely got options.