Sound — 7
Aussie hippy rockers Pond are strange. They're a splinter collective of pop dreamers Tame Impala, established in 2008 as a platform for music in whatever form it may come. A freely rotating cast of musicians, their sound varies with every release but usually centres on pop and classic rock under a cloud of psychedelia heady at the worst of times. If Tame Impala worship Lennon and "Revolver," on their new album Pond think McCartney and "Helter Skelter," embracing uncharted heaviness and harder, more subversive territory. Think "Lonerism"'s swirling intoxication with a tougher edge and a smaller garage. The crunch even resembles Sabbath at times, but their vibes are unrelentingly positive.
Drugged up to the eyeballs on god-knows-what, "Hobo Rocket" is coated in a thick layer of lo-fi scuzz but habitually loses its head in the clouds. The most pungent psychedelic haze lurks on the fringes initially, biding its time while the juddering riffs of "Xanman" lead the way. But "0 Dharma"'s balmy acoustics infuse a little more colour into the racket, and the jams that follow sway between states of drowsy contemplation and hallucinogenic deep-fry. "Giant Tortoise" expertly marries soft organ strokes with Bonham-esque battery, while "Midnight Mass (At The Market Street Payphone)" falls down the psych-rock rabbit hole within a minute of starting but takes the opportunity to see the sights, and re-emerges in an entirely new form.
True to form for psychedelic revivalism, Pond conjure memories of a time before computers, when everything was recorded analog and production experiments had to be exacted upon spools of tape. You can practically feel the machinery at work when the whole ensemble is run through a dense phaser at the end of "Giant Tortoise." Their lack of fear when it comes to production techniques is refreshing, though it may only imitate the sound of a simpler time.
Lyrics — 7
You're doing well if you can make out much of what Nick Allbrook says on this album, and doing even better if you can assign much meaning to it. At no point is an album called "Hobo Rocket" going to be about sentiment, and large parts of the album are instrumental anyway. Vocals, whether Allbrook's shrill high register or the grouped harmonies of the remaining entourage, are just small wisps of smoke in the larger hot-box smog. Poetic in its own way, I suppose.
Overall Impression — 7
Although "Hobo Rocket" is less about the hooks than previous album "Beard Wives Denim" or anything else on the Tame Impala family tree, Pond still stir up something memorable from a heavy album - their most aggressive to date. It rocks hard. "Xanman" and "Aloneaflameaflower" are the highlights, injecting impetus and energy into what can be quite an oppressive production style, and their ultra-stoned tangents are highly enjoyable. Penetrating the fog is not as difficult as it may seem at first glance, so sit down with headphones, listen, enjoy... and remember to take a deep breath, or else you might not wake up as "Midnight Mass" floats out on a Dorian dream.