Coming out of the burgeoning psychedelic rock scene that has formed in Australia over the past few years, Pond have released their sixth studio album titled Man It Feels Like Space Again and are brilliantly chaotic in all senses. The band are said to be an ego-free revolving door collective with an idea to capitalise on the rich pickings of talent, picking artists from the current Australian scene. This includes psych rock darlings Tame Impala, Mink Mussel Creek and Allbrook/Avery. Nick Allbrook, Jay Watson and Joe Ryan have formed the backbone of the band throughout their short history adding whoever, when and where necessary. It’s a freeness that resonates through out their music.
Before the music even starts, the colourful illustration of the album cover leaves no second-guesses as to what sort of trip you’re in for. This is confirmed when the album opener “Waiting For Grace” starts, weird extraterrestrial noises are played behind a longing synth arrangement. The vocals come in almost immediately and give you the sense that this is almost a swansong and that there is no going back after this. All goes silent and makes way for a flanged guitar riff that signifies blast off. Once the drums and melody come in, it becomes a glorious piece of psychy space pop, reminiscent of The Flaming Lips at their best.
Next up is the album’s lead single “Elvis’ Flaming Star“. A fast paced, rumbling pop bass line that makes way for a Ziggy Stardust style verse. In fact the whole song is shrouded in Bowie-esque touches and is great because of this. But what takes this song to the next level is a fun groove that echoes parts of Prince’s back catalogue and then sprinkled with their own reverb explosions on top.
“Holding Out For You” slows the tempo down and it sounds like a long lost Lennon song played by Mercury Rev. It sounds great but it would be hard for most bands to pick up the pace again, that is unless you’re Pond. Their third single “Zond” is a piece of pop madness. Its got that great driving drum and bass backing that wouldn’t sound out of place in a space rave. The track bounces around and never lets you settle, pulling you in all directions and before you know it, it’s over.
The next track “Heroic Shart” (yes that does say shart) and second single “Sitting Up On Our Crane” don’t impose the way the previous tracks have. “Heroic Shart” sounds a little too much like MGMT, which is not a problem in its self but it doesn’t have that Pond magic found elsewhere. “Sitting Up On Our Crane” is a nice summer drenched balled and gets particularly powerful and more hypnotic as the song goes on.
“Outside Is The Right Side” picks up that space rave vibe again. So funky it hurts. Its sounds like Parliament and Funkadelic but played by five white Australians dudes cooked up on hallucinogenic drugs somewhere in the desert. It’s pure joy and energy that makes this the highlight of the album. “Because Medicine Hat” is the most straightforward song on the album, it stands out for that reason. A nice little slice of Americana with an added synth soundscape twists towards the end; it’s a wonderful little ballad.
The last track on the album takes its name from the album title, “Man It Feels Like Space Again”. An 8-minute symphony that shifts and changes to far out places but never loses sight of the actual song. In essence it takes all the different styles across the album and moulds it into one monumental song, which somehow actually achieves the feet of feeling like you’re coming back to earth from out of space. As the track slows, you can feel yourself starting to come back out of a bubble Pond have created for you. You feel them leaving you back on earth as they set off again, waving to you out of the window with both parties knowing you’ll never be quite the same again.
At forty five minutes long, with only nine tracks, there can be a case fought that some parts are too long and over indulgent, but that is exactly the point of a band like Pond and an album like Man It Feels Like Space Again. Most psychedelic rock bands are criminal for seeing how far they can take it and end up in the middle of nowhere, losing sight of the songs. Pond have managed to avoid this by being loose spirited and actually sounding like they are having fun. Great, classic song writing sprinkled in that psyc, space Aussie magic. The album is out now and can be purchased from iTunes here.
Words by Jake Bates // Edited by Ayo Adepoju