Pond – 'Hobo Rocket' album review
The Tame Impala associates tread their own fun and freaky path
Mon Aug 12 2013
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
So you thought Tame Impala were far out? Allow us to introduce Pond, a band led by former Impala musician Nick Allbrook and featuring other members of Australia's psychedelic rock underground (including, occasionally, Tame Impala leader Kevin Parker). These heavy friends from Down Under picked up some praise for last year's 'Beard, Wives, Denim' album, but 'Hobo Rocket' is a step beyond that album's free-and-easy jam sessions. It's a trip even deeper into the group's cosmic headspace, with a little more clarity, focus and sheer, crunchy oomph than before.
The riotous psych-rock odyssey 'Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide' sets the tone for the album's eclectic displays of maximal, semi-improvised wig-outery. A Bo Diddley blues rhythm meets furious, fuzzy stoner rock riffing, before the whole thing turns itself inside out and becomes an octave-jumping space-rock track. It all fades away – leaving a saxophone and synthesiser to slog it out centre-stage – then cartwheels back and crash-lands in the middle distance with the engine still sputtering. Out of the wreckage crawls the next song: the Beatles-meet-Sabbath-meet-Todd Rundgren shuffle of 'Xanman'.
That brain-stretching chop-and-change is the essential pattern of 'Hobo Rocket'. Energetic, monstrous riffing gives way to Flaming Lips-style cosmic pop, meandering psych-rock ballads to ’90s-ish ambient electronic jams, full-scale prog rock to something approaching shoegaze. On the title track, there's a hobo (more or less – it's Perth street poet and musician Cowboy John, sounding like a sedated Mark E Smith) talking about – yep – a rocket.
'Hobo Rocket' is pretty big, and clever enough to work nicely as a whole despite its genre-straddling tendencies. You couldn't exactly call it restrained, however: this is a tuned-in, tripped-out, full-on party record, the sound of a group of musicians having an excellent time making weird noises in impressive unison. Comparisons to Tame Impala are inevitable, and it's fair to say that Pond's exuberant freak-outs might not stand the test of time as well as Parker's ultra-refined, studio-focussed sound. But this is dizzying and thoroughly exciting stuff, even at its silliest.
- Critics choice
As well as ranking surprisingly well on Google, Aussie five-piece Pond are top contenders when it comes to whacked-out psychedelic vibes. The trippy, proggy and maximalist songs on their latest album 'Hobo Rocket' romp through glam, space rock, retro pop and hard riffing – and sometimes all of the above simultaneously.
Watch Pond's 'Xanman' video
Listen to 'Hobo Rocket' on Spotify
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