When a pop group's rise to stardom is heavily enhanced by the use of one of their songs in a TV commercial, it can be a mixed blessing. As one such band, New Young Pony Club will be hoping the release of their second album, The Optimist, can shake off any 'one hit wonder' tags and help the foursome build on their earlier success.

Following the release of Ice Cream back in 2005 (and subsequent re-releases), NYPC found themselves in popular demand. With an album in the charts, extensive was touring to follow. Returning with a second album the band have made an effort to reinvent themselves by adding an extra dimension to their punk-infused dance pop. Now with the experience to match the on-stage flamboyance of lead-singer Tahita Bulmer, the new album is something of a darker affair.

Entering the stage with the crowd in good spirits (after being thoroughly woken up by special guests Teeth) the band opened with new single Chaos. Still upbeat but slightly edgier than anything from the first offering, there seemed to be a conscious decision to showcase a new sound. Whilst there is undoubtedly a freshness to the new stuff, the energy associated with the group remains and this is my no means a sea change. The decision to bring an element of the noire, however slight, into what is essentially a dance pop act is always a risk and NYPC are, in reality, at their best when they stick to what they know.

With a set-list comprising of a fairly even mix of new material and favourites from 2007's Fantastic Playroom, the band sounded sharp and moved seamlessly through the show. All it should be said, well received by a buoyant crowd. It was through 'Hiding On The Staircase' though, that the band shone. No coincidence then that it was during this song and 'Ice Cream' when Bulmer was able to show off that contagious exuberance of hers, and NYPC could really sparkle. Seeing a band trying to develop beyond the tunes that made them successful is something that should indeed be lauded. However, the truth is that although this group knows how to push the feel good and rouse a crowd, the new songs will not perhaps allow them to shift gears in the way they may have hoped. They have achieved some rare moments of pop magic in the past but these days may unfortunately now be behind them.

Released: Fri 30th Apr 2010