Pond are probably sick of the constant comparisons they get to Tame Impala but it’s so hard to not dish them out when Pond are essentially the cousins of Tame Impala. Both of these Neo-Psychedelia bands have very similar styles and are released on the same label. The lead singer/songwriter of Tame Impala Kevin Parker has had a very firm grip around the creative process of their records leaving no space for any other band mates to put forward ideas. So because of that two of them decided to go off and create their own music in another band called Pond; a project they use as a creative pool where they would let anyone in to collaborate with them and make whatever sort of music they fancy. Their previous projects have gone in a very similar direction as Tame Impala in places, except they have always had a lot more of a willingness to use more effects and completely drown themselves in their psychedelia.
‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’ is mixed by the Tame Impala frontman himself and he seems to understand that Pond want none of the pop sensibilities that Tame Impala poccess. This record has it’s synthscapes pushed right to the forefront of the record, the distorted as hell guitars have been pushed right to back and the vocals are completely drowned in reverb like you’d expect from a Neo-Psychedelia act. You’re probably thinking that this sounds like the ingredients for a less accessible yet harder and grittier version of Tame Impala. You’d only be right on the less accessible part.
This record feels like it’s going for the more ‘authentic’ approach to psychedelia in that they’re trying to create sonic worlds that you can fall into with ease and not have to emerge from. But in reality it’s not really falling into it that happens but more drifting away from it out of pure boredom. Most of these songs start off solidly and entertainingly; ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’ starts off with a pretty decent groove that rolls forward but then like with most of the songs it soon becomes pretty dull when nothing else catches your ear from the song. This is a problem on a large part of these songs they simply find an idea and then just roll with it with not much care for execution.
There are moments on this record when they decide to mellow out their sound and it sometimes sounds a lot more creative like the song ‘Medicine Hat’, which starts with the strumming of a lonesome guitar and vocals that you can actually distinguish from the instrumentation. The song still features synths but they feel like they’ve been used a lot more delicately and with care – it’s not a fantastic song it’s just a spot that actually stands out between the hodge-podge of nostalgia and glittery synths. The saying ‘less is more’ is truer than ever on this record.
Too many times on this record does actually feel like the glittery, shiny effects – which can sometimes be captivating in the moments before they become tedious – are only there to simply cover up the fact that the band doesn’t have much in the way of ideas in song-writing. Where other bands like Tame Impala, MGMT and M83 all succeed is that they take nostalgic sounds and create songs that blend pop sensibilities with it to create something original and have their own identity. As soon as you hear a riff from a Tame Impala song it’s instantly recognisable as being them, whereas there’s scarcely a memorable guitar riff or moment on this record. I’m not saying that Pond need to write pop songs, they just need to create some sort of their own identity rather than hiding behind a wall of muddy sonic wallpaper.
Unless you are devoted to either the band or absolutely love everything that comes out with that slight whiff of Psychedelia from the past, there’s not much reason to visit this record, especially if you’ve never been blown away from this band before. There’s no attempts to reinvent the wheel on this band they’ve just given that wheel a pair of crappy pair of plastic hub caps.
Best Tracks: Medicine Hat