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About a month ago, acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and Macy Gray impersonator Nick Allbrook left Tame Impala. At the time, it raised a lot of questions: who in their right mind leaves arguably the biggest buzz band in the world? And, perhaps more pertinently, who in their right mind leaves arguably the biggest buzz band in the world at arguably the peak of their power?
Upon reflection, Allbrook’s other band, Pond, provides us with answers. Five records in, and it’s becoming more and more evident that Pond is simply too substantial a project to keep on the backburner. Their latest, Hobo Rocket, is their most cohesive release to date, distinct from the rest of their catalogue for one main reason:
It’s really succinct.
Gone are the lengthy, sprawling guitar solos that marked their early work. So too are most all of the throwback psychedelic jams. In fact, Hobo Rocket‘s seven songs clock in at all of 34 minutes – trimming a great deal of the fat from their time as a jam band in favour of directness and songwriting precision. What’s left, more than anything, are cohesive song structures, clever arrangements, and the impression that Pond aren’t going to be Jan Brady to Tame Impala’s Marcia for much longer.
This isn’t to say that this is a different band than you’ve heard before – the core of what makes Pond an interesting and relevant act remains very much intact. The production that runs throughout the record is Hobo Rocket‘s most familiar calling card, while cuts like Aloneaflameaflowe and O Dharma still showcase the warped sense of melody that were pivotal in establishing the band’s sound in the first place.
Thankfully, they’ve also worked out how to change it up. Opener Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide? is marked by a jungle rhythm that provides a counter-intuitively percussive backbeat for the reverbed-out guitars and vocals slowly unfolding over the top, while Midnight Mass sounds like an acidic, dream pop lullaby.
With all of this said, if you’re looking for dense lyrical content, this isn’t the album for you. As with most of the psych-revival acts doing the rounds in 2013, Hobo Rocket emphasises sounds above words. It sounds pretty lovely, though – so if you’re ultimately cool with a few clunky, nonsensical metaphors then you’re really in for a good time.
Pond’s ‘Hobo Rocket’ is available 2nd August.