Pond – 'Hobo Rocket' album review

The Tame Impala associates tread their own fun and freaky path

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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.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

See Pond live in London

Bardo Pond

  • Critics choice

Staples of Philidelphia's psychedelic scene since 1991, Bardo Pond craft long, lackadaisical jams that blossom into noisy guitar freak-outs. Their latest album 'Peace in Venus' was one of their most accessible yet, and they've also taken to covering tracks by legendary artists including Brian Eno and Pharoah Sanders, but they're at their best getting cosmic on stage.

  1. Corsica Studios Elephant Road, SE17 1LB
  2. Mon Sep 22
Buy tickets
See all Pond gigs

Watch Pond's 'Xanman' video


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See Pond live in London

Bardo Pond

  • Critics choice

Staples of Philidelphia's psychedelic scene since 1991, Bardo Pond craft long, lackadaisical jams that blossom into noisy guitar freak-outs. Their

  1. Corsica Studios Elephant Road, SE17 1LB
  2. Mon Sep 22
Buy tickets

Listen to 'Hobo Rocket' on Spotify

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