Some bands have a style have that plays fast and loose with inspiration from various eras, and The Pondhawks is one such example. It would be easy to just describe their sound as “Beatles-esque” and leave it at that, but the Chicago-based duo’s new single “Afraid of Love” has a 70s-like beat and guitar more reminiscent of Wings and the heavily Beatles-inspired ELO—the cover art, with a winged guitar and a heart set against a kaleidoscopic background, also harkens back to the days of lava lamps and paisley. A bit of strange, spacey synth at the start of the song brings to mind the new wave bands that carried the psychedelic flame into the 80s, like XTC and, well, The Psychedelic Furs.
As the brainchild of Jorie Gracen and Mario Novelli, The Pondhawks is a tight, confident little group with a clear vision—even that four-winged guitar featured on their covers is a reference to their name being a synonym for dragonflies. The Beatle that this new track seems to evoke the most strongly is George, with dreamy sitars and vocals that can make one think of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” For those keeping score at home, this song weaves together synths, sitars, guitars, piano, and more in a very busy production that manages to never feel cluttered or unfocused. At the center of the song is a groovy, incredibly danceable hook that the song loops back to between its more somber verses about loneliness and isolation. That wonderful contrast between moody, introspective lyrics and bouncy music again brings to mind Electric Light Orchestra classics like “The Diary of Horace Wimp,” and gives the tune a buoyant energy. Weaving together sounds from the 60s, 70s, and 80s with a more modern sheen on top, The Pondhawks show they have something for everyone with this and other releases.