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Pond - Tasmania (Album Review)

Friday, 08 March 2019 Written by Grant Jones

Photo: Pooneh Ghana

With their eighth release, Australian psych-rock collective Pond attempt to finally rid themselves of the stylistic associations with former member, and Tame Impala leader, Kevin Parker that have coloured their previous efforts.

Although Parker returns once again to co-produce ‘Tasmania’, his influence is edged out by what feels like a genuine realisation of Pond’s own identity. Unfortunately, they probably would have been better off completing one more semester at the Tame Impala School of Modern Mainstream Psychedelia.

The band have stepped tenderly in one direction and then sharply in another with the creation of each new album over the last eight years, perhaps due to their penchant for inviting new collaborators on board. The only consistency in their catalogue appears to be change.

Rather than attempting to find a formula that works and sticking with it in order to mould something memorable, they believe in forging a legacy through a constant state of flux.

This means the band can achieve great moments like 2015’s ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’, but also falter slightly while trying to venture into new lands, as evidenced by this offering. ‘Tasmania’ flits between orchestral numbers like album opener Daisy, electro-pop bops like Hand Mouth Dance, the neo-funk, Prince-inspired jam Sixteen Days and full on prog-rock indulgences such as the eight minute long stand out track, Burn Out Star. All have a foot in electronica, more so than anything from previous releases, and all deal lyrically with the listless reactions of humans to the climate change catastrophe.

Vocally, we are treated to Nick Allbrook’s finest moments to date, especially on the soft, gloomy howls of Shame, where he is able to translate a clear honesty about his own pessimism. Musically the rest of the album follows suit, almost romantically lamenting a lost world. Unfortunately, ‘Tasmania’ also contains none of the urgency exhibited by fellow Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, which is surprising given the album’s subject matter.

But, altogether, this a well realised collection, representing an exciting turn for a band that has taken many. If they can expand on this with their next release, instead of indulging in another about face, we may get something very special.

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