Pond - 'Tasmania' Album Review
Always on the cusp of glory, Australian psych-rock boys Pond have been reaching for their signature sound since the band’s conception in 2008, as they hopped from project to project, each one landing in a different camp ranging from garage rock to psych-rock to glam rock and psychedelic pop. Now, I have a pretty big soft spot for Pond seeing as they pretty much introduced me to psych-rock but even I can admit that they’ve never quite reached greatness with any of their albums all of which contain some stellar tracks but an equal amount of duds. The closest they came in my opinion was their 2015 album Man It Feels Like Space Again, a concise project that innovated on everything I liked about their first few albums and while I was let down by their 2017 effort The Weather, it’s fair to say that their new album Tasmania is an improvement in almost every way, rekindling the rough-around-the-edges sound that made me fall in love with the band.
The track ‘Daisy’ serves as the opener to Tasmania and since it’s release in early January as a single I have fallen completely in love with it. I’m not sure what it is about this track but the overwhelming energy from Nick Allbrook above the glistening guitar chords just never fail to put me in a good mood and as a result it is easily one of Pond‘s best songs to date. The shimmering guitars of ‘Daisy’ set up Pond‘s sound across Tasmania nicely as every track on here is just gorgeously produced, containing layers upon layers of rich guitars and meaty drums that just fill out each song. On almost every previous Pond project there have been 2 or 3 obvious filler tracks and while it would be a lie to say that I absolutely love every track off of Tasmania, I can confidently say that on every track there is at least something to like and the majority of it come from the lush instrumentation. This is obvious on the next track ‘Sixteen Days’ with it’s pulsating synth and muddy percussion that all just takes me back to the unclean and frantic Man It Feels Like Space Again.
Across all their albums, the one engaging constant at Pond‘s disposal has always been Nick Allbrook’s off-the-wall delivery and songwriting, and gladly this album is no different, offering thinly veiled comments on modern issues such as masculinity in the previously mentioned ‘Daisy’ and the brilliantly booming ‘The Boys Are Killing Me’ or the less-than-subtle politics on ‘Hand Mouth Dancer’ that sees Allbrook discussing the need for art to be political in our era. Despite it’s interesting lyrical content, the majority of Tasmania‘s appeal comes once again from it’s extravagant and grand instrumentation that bridges the gaps between some of the more dull moments on the tracklist, like on the 8-minute slog that is ‘Burnt Out Star’, a track that is saved entirely by it’s energetic and fantastic final 3 minutes that are almost exclusively instrumental thanks to the heavily filtered vocals. The same can be said for the preceding track, ‘Goodnight P.C.C’, a pleasant and spacey track that really kicks into gear in it’s final moments in a crescendo that blew my little mind and had me rewinding it over and over again.
While this phenomenal, glittery production courtesy of previous Pond member Kevin Parker of Tame Impala fame is generally uplifting in tone, there is a sinister fuzziness and uneven-ness in the sound of Tasmania. Usually coming from Allbrook’s filtered vocals or the heavily distorted instruments (or both on the dark and creeping ‘Shame’), this album is a little rough around it’s sparkling instrumentals, something that was lacking from their overly ‘clean’ sounding last album The Weather. Instead of trying to re-write the rule book once again, Pond take what they were going for on their previous effort and rough it up a bit as on Tasmania, they perfectly combine the fuzziness from their garage-rock days with the psych-pop of their current sound to create a sickeningly sweet album and a welcome return to form.
Listen to the album (and it's lovely cover art) in full below: