For eight albums and 14 years, Matt Pond's music has been accompanied by the "PA" appellation and performed by a rotating cast of bandmates. With The Lives ..., he finally makes a break. Pond's solo debut still features the buoyant melodies of his previous chamber folk/orchestral pop albums, but the fussy grandeur has been mothballed for pulsing new wave dance beats. The energy animates Pond's typically languid melancholia. And although they shadow the dance-pop border, Pond's craftsmanship prevents songs such as "Love To Get Used," "Hole In My Heart," and "Starlet" from crossing over into pure confection, recalling early '80s hitmakers Peter Gabriel, John Waite, and Supertramp. Like NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), it's insidiously irresistible. (3 out of 5 stars)
Matt Pond with Jukebox the Ghost, the Lighthouse & the Whaler, Mime Game. $10. 6:30 p.m. Mon., Feb. 18. Masquerade (Purgatory), 695 North Ave. 404-577-8178. www.masq.com.