Pond – 'Hobo Rocket' album review

The Tame Impala associates tread their own fun and freaky path

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

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

For a show that was always going to be a surefire hit, ‘Painting the Modern Garden’ more than delivers in the ways you’d expect. Floral masterpieces by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir and Henri Matisse are abundant; there are also endless discoveries to be made, from Henri Le Sidaner’s ‘The Rose Pavilion’ (1936), pink and powdery like your nan’s cheek, to the fiery sunset strangeness of little-known Spaniard Santiago Rusiñol’s ‘Glorieta VII, Aranjuez’ (1919). The Royal Academy has embraced the theme with gusto. Walls are painted the sludgy greens and subdued blues of posh garden sheds. There are park benches to sit on. You half expect a holographic Titchmarsh to appear, offering advice about your hanging baskets. So, it’s sumptuous and a little silly in parts (and surely the perfect Mother’s Day treat). But, you don’t need to dig too far to find rich seams of history. Because, while this is a blockbuster full of the most beautiful paintings you’ll see all year, it’s also a show about the ways in which the newly-prosperous middle classes were able to cultivate patches of land for themselves, and how, unexpectedly, the rise of modern art was helped by the advent of the mail-order seed catalogue. And by botanical science, which led to new hybrids becoming available – notably the dahlia, which went from being a Mexican sort-of daisy to the spiky Ascot hat adored by the impressionists. The garden is shaped, in life as in art, as a place of solace, escape and innovation. Yet, regardl

  1. Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
  2. Sat Jan 30 - Wed Apr 20
More info
See all Pond gigs

Watch Pond's 'Xanman' video


See Pond live in London

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

For a show that was always going to be a surefire hit, ‘Painting the Modern Garden’ more than delivers in the ways you’d expect. Floral

  1. Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
  2. Sat Jan 30 - Wed Apr 20
More info

Listen to 'Hobo Rocket' on Spotify

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