Pond finds their footing in new album ‘Tasmania’

From start to finish, “Tasmania” is a finely-tuned journey through psychedelia

pond-at-2014-southbound-festival

Pond performing at the 2014 Southbound Festival.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Pond, the Australian psychedelic rock band that’s typically been labeled as a Tame Impala sound-alike, has always appeared to be on the verge of finding their signature sound. The band certainly doesn’t keep their listeners waiting — since their founding in 2008, they have released eight albums. Each release indicates a leap from different styles and influences, ranging from garage rock to glam rock to psychedelic pop. On their latest release — which came out March 1 — Pond has once again landed in new territory. “Tasmania” is without a doubt their poppiest effort yet, which is a vast change from the more intense psych/garage rock embedded in their older albums. 

The five-piece rock joint has never quite reached greatness with any of their previous albums, all of which contain some stellar tracks but an equal amount of uninteresting ones. “The Weather,” released in 2017  is a perfect example of this — an album that had wonderful psychedelic anthems but also lacked consistency as a whole. In many ways, “Tasmania” feels like a more cohesive version of its predecessor. It is an unpredictable and exciting record flowing with psychedelia and funk-driven basslines, which is a true reflection of what makes this band so great.

The album opens with “Daisy,” a track lasting almost seven minutes that serves as a preparatory act for what’s to come on the other nine tracks. Vocalist Nick Allbrook’s words are perfectly tuned with the shimmering guitar chords, drums and synths. It is a clear highlight of the album, with a funky bassline and a softer closure that’s somewhat therapeutic. The grooviness continues throughout the album with plenty of unique and appealing hooks on each track.

As the album progresses, it starts to unravel the topic of their home country. “Tasmania” explores a number of themes, including location, a declaration of love for Australia and nature’s submission to humans — themes that echo a strong call to their last work but weren’t emphasized as firmly as they should have been. “It’s spring,” the opening track “Daisy” begins, “and the cherry blossoms sprout / The legs are out / and the bronzed chests, and fires bejeweling the south west.” This lyric brilliantly sums up the underlying lyrical effort of the album — to contradict the beauty of nature with the evident effects of climate change in Australia. Exploring their views, experiences and history of the vast landscape they create, brings an extremely personal and in-depth feel for listeners. 

Produced by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, the overall sound of “Tasmania” has an immaculate quality that is noticeable almost immediately. Beginning as a sort of sister act with members floating from band to band, Pond has never really managed to tear away the tag of being associated with Tame Impala. There are many similarities between the two bands, such as the little drops of psychedelic pop and synths reminiscent of “Currents,” Tame Impala’s most recent studio album. There is plenty to say about Parker’s production on this album — the way the music flows, the mastery of how it’s mixed, the overall atmospheric sound. But this album is more of a testament to Pond’s talent in that Parker’s production isn’t nearly as interesting as the music that’s being produced in the first place.

Despite there being plenty of interesting lyrical content, much of the album’s appeal comes from its extravagant instrumentation, which bridges the gap for some of the duller moments on the tracklist. On “Burnt Out Star,” an eight-minute track with hazy vocals from Allbrook, the song is saved by dreamy and distorted instrumentation. A wave of guitars begin to gather and create an embodying experience, for which the band is renowned. 

Whereas “The Weather” seemed like a transitional album for Pond, “Tasmania” is an indication of the band’s solidification. Pond takes what they were going for on their previous effort and roughs it up a bit more on “Tasmania,” successfully combining the fuzziness from their garage-rock days with the psych-pop of their current sound to create a satisfactory album and a much needed return to form.

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