Brooklyn-based Matt Pond PA has carved a career out of the past tense: Nothing this band ever plays has much to do with the future, and everything is subject to the lens of faded memory. The result, thus far, has been six years and nine albums of indie-pop elegy that's never broken big.
But the group has no hang-ups. Why would it? It has a wistful, supple sound and could probably go on happily for another six years, playing the same kind of songs. Fans of Pond should take this at face value: Their band is never going to get any better or any worse than it showed Wednesday night at the Paradise.
And the set was strong. Frontman Matt Pond (the PA refers to the state where the group has recorded several albums) seemed comfortable onstage. Dressed in jeans and a worn T-shirt, he paced around the mike, listening to the audience shout requests that he went on to ignore.
''I always talk when I come to Boston," he said. ''But I promise I'll stop talking."
He didn't. On the agenda: a break-in in New York that had claimed some of the band's equipment, the romantic availability of his bassist, and a discussion of cellist Dana Feder's attachment to Boston. From there, Pond swung into the syncopated chill of ''Snow Day" from 2005's ''Winter Songs," and then through the lovely nostalgia of ''So Much Trouble." Pond murmured the lyrics: ''I don't think I want to think about it, how the fall is coming down."
Feder's cello gave the remaining tracks a slippery grace, and, preparing to play ''Several Arrows Later," Pond dropped his guitar and let the cello respond to the longing in his voice.
''I told myself not to remind me of the things I could've been," Pond complained, and on cue, an amber light spilled across the stage. After ''Several Hours Later," Pond crumpled a plastic cup between his fingers, and tossed it back to the curtain at the rear of the stage. It was the first time he'd turned his back to the crowd in 40 minutes. When he faced the mike again, he looked perfectly at ease.