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on 11 March 2010
Having got bored with Fantastic Playroom rather fast due to it's repetitiveness although keeping Ice Cream and The Get Go on my playlist, I took a chance and bought this on the release date... what a pleasant surprise! As a previous reviewer has said the tracks are significantly different from each other to prevent boredom setting in and the sound is much deeper. Most tracks hold their own, the only dud being 'Stone', other than that a reflective vibe with some uplifting pop moments. It's also a grower - the best albums always are!
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VINE VOICEon 2 March 2010
This is a really accomplished follow up to Fantastic Playroom, it's dark, it's more experimental and a lot of the songs have depth and lots of layers to them.

Theres upbeat: 'Dolls' 'Chaos' and 'We Want To' and then mysterious dark and delicious 'Lost a Girl' 'Rapture' 'The Optimist' 'Before the Light' ending with down right gorgeous and heartbreaking 'The Architect of Love'

No its not Fantastic Playroom part 2 - but it's a progression of the NYPC sound and a great one at that.
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on 2 January 2012
Overall this is a fine album. Songs are mature, carefully crafted and reflect a mood which is both sombre and encapsulating. Not an album I'd play all the time, but nonetheless pleasing. Standouts include the title track, 'Before the Light' and the irresitable 'We Want To'.

I really would like to see this band truly succeed because the enjoyment I've got from listening to their music (I like it in other words). However the real test for what comes next is whether they can balance the depth and maturity of this work with the spark and pop ambition of the last. I hope they manage it for however long they may carry the baton for this genre of pop.
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New Young Pony Club's 2007 release 'Fantastic Playroom' was a confident debut.
Their new album 'The Optimist' demonstrates considerable development both
in compositional elan and a broader and more varied sonic style.
The sound is bigger, better and brasher in the nicest possible way.

There are ten tracks in the collection, all of them chock-full of the kind of
sunny pop ambience which could set the summer alight if it has the power
to hang on in there until the beach parties are ready to roll.

The spirit of The B52's is alive and well in more than a few of these fine songs.
Tahita Bulmer's deliciously deadpan vocal delivery, the crisp, boisterous beats
and infectious sing-along hooks keep that iconic band's spirit alive.

'We Want To' is a cracking little anthem full of good energy and well-constructed
melodic and harmonic ideas. So too 'Dolls', a scintillating blast of fresh air!
When Ms Bulmer sings "I thought I had a brain/I don't seem to have one" I found it
impossible to agree with her! This is intelligently crafted pop of the very highest pedigree!

Andy Spence (guitar), Len Hayter (keys) and Sara Jones (drums) put flesh on the bones
of these simple but stylishly convincing arrangements with confident aplomb.

Other standout tracks include the deliciously stripped-down 'Oh Cherie' which
bumbles along happily for five or so minutes without need of excessive decoration
to make its mark and final track 'Architect Of Love' which brings the album to a
low-key but memorable close with its tasty reverb-laden guitar arabesques and
economically four-square beat. Ms Bulmer delivers the downbeat melody like a dark angel.

Refreshing, unaffected and packed full of fun, 'The Optimist' is an unpolished
gem more than worthy of both our attention and our applause.

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on 22 November 2013
I love the album, and the CD was in perfect condition, but it was a cardbaord case and not a plastic case which I wasn't aware of, and also the cardboard case was a bit tatty, something I hadn't expected.
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on 14 November 2010
I had heard Ice Cream etc before, but never really got into NYPC before this album - I thought they had a slightly monotonous sound before that bored me a bit. Then I heard 'Dolls' on an internet radio station I listen to sometimes which led me to the rest of the album and wow! I love every song on the album - a rarity! - and have listened to it on repeat for a couple weeks straight now. This album has a slightly darker sound to it than previous work, and there are touches of The Cure, New Order etc in there, there's a definite nod to the darker side of '70s-'80s synthpop, which I happen to love, but may not be everyone's taste. But though it is reminiscent of some of those classic bands, it stands on its own as well without being derivative.
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on 18 June 2010
I've been a fan of NYPC ever since I saw them on the NME roadshow thingy along with Klaxons, CSS and Sunshine Underground. They were first on, but if anything, they were the most impressive of the bands that night. Off the back of that I got into Fantastic Playroom and I loved it, but The Optimist is a more accomplished album again. Standout tracks for me are Lost a Girl, The Optimist and Oh Cherie, but I've just listened to it again and there isn't a filler anywhere on the album, which is very rare, even for the very best albums. I saw them a few months back at the Cockpit and they've become one of the best live bands around. It's just a shame they seem to be hovering under the radar at the moment.
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on 9 March 2010
The first album was flawed (every song sounded the same and the lyrics were just a few good sounding phrases repeated) but the album was better than the songs. I've been listening to it constantly for around two years. The problem, as I saw it, for the band was that they didn't seem to have any range. They could do one thing well, but there didn't seem to be many signs that they could progress and get better.

I heard that they were going a bit darker with light touches of Goth added to their sound. Also a long term relationship had ended for the lead singer so the lyrics this time might be more than just good sounding phrases. So I was quietly optimistic for the album.

They have retained their deliberately flat, deadpanned, distanced sound. This time the songs do sound a bit different to each other which makes for a more varied listen. It starts as a glittering pop bauble with a melancholy streak but ends up as a slower, more self-consciously mature album. I'm not convinced mature, as in slower songs, fits the band half as well as up-tempo dance music. There are slight hints of a Goth sound here and there with phased vocals and ominous bass but not enough for any of these songs to fit on a playlist of Goth songs.

Lyrically there's still a lot of repetition of phrases. The words are perhaps loaded with more meaning than they were on the previous album, but I wouldn't say they are noticeably better or deeper to anyone who wasn't there for the recording of the album.

I don't think The Optimist is a disappointment. It's maybe not a great album but then I didn't expect a masterpiece from them. They haven't so much progressed from the first album as side stepped into a more melancholy direction.

Curiously they don't appear to be a band anymore in the traditional sense. The lead singer and the guitarist (and I assume both are multi-instrumentalists) are credited as writing, producing and PERFORMING the album on the back cover. On the inside the drummer is credited specifically for only four songs, and for EXTRA drums on another four songs. The keyboard player is credited with EXTRA piano on only one song. They also appear to have dropped the bass player completely. So I assume the drummer and keyboard player are more like session players now for live performances and music video appearances. Very odd.

1. Lost A Girl (4 out of 5 stars)
A good solid pop song. Fairly up-tempo with downbeat lyrics about the end of a relationship.

2. Chaos (4 stars)
Another solid pop song.

3. The Optimist (3 stars)
Slight whiff of Goth to the production. Siouxsie And The Banshees version of Helter Skelter comes to mind, mainly because of the lyric about getting to the bottom. Decent song but I feel it could have been better (darker, weirder etc).

4. Stone (2 stars)
Lyrically very simple. Musically it's mostly just bleepy sound effects (sounds like a synth but it's probably a guitar through an effect pedal?). It's the weakest song on the album but still enjoyable enough. I get the impression in the mind of the band this is one of the key tracks.

5. We Want To (3 stars)
Sounds nice but I'm not sure much is really happening of substance in the song. The vocals have an odd aquatic, bubbly feel to them.

6. Dolls (3 stars)
A more forceful, rockier dance track. Her voice is quite nakedly up-front which doesn't necessarily do her any favours, not that her voice isn't still nice.

7. Before The Light (3 stars)
Repetitive slower "mature" song. It's okay and a nice change of pace.

8. Oh Cherie (2 stars)
Another repetitive slower song. Lyrically it doesn't seem to be saying or suggesting anything. A bit banal and dwarfed by the previous song which at least hinted at depths. Pleasant filler.

9. Rapture (2 stars)
Song does nothing for me.

10. Architect Of Love (3 stars)
Unremarkable mid-tempo song with exactly the type of lyrics you would expect from a sad end of a relationship song with this title.

I like to make an EP playlist out of some albums for my iPod. Tracks 1, 2, 6 and 7 made the cut.

At the time of writing I've only heard the album twice and everyone says it's a grower so I expect to be adding amendments to this review. The three star overall rating might end up being a bit of a red herring as it will probably still get played a lot more than most three star albums should.

I would suggest buying Fantastic Playroom first before moving onto this album. I do recommend The Optimist as it is a solid 45 minute album, just don't expect to be blown away by it.
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on 6 May 2010
I was invited to a gig and bought this album beforehand so I knew the music etc, only to find myself completely hooked on this album, its tunes and the beautiful performance! And there is more: unbelievably they are even better live (I saw them in Amsterdam but many many gigs lined up across the UK and mainland Europe as well). Truly, go see them now while you can, they will go a long way.
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on 17 April 2010
The album is on par if not better than their first album.
It's catchy, deep, the lyrics are funny, serious, it's everything you want in a album....Go for it!!
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