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POND – Hobo Rocket

Album review

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Every so often a 70s revival act comes out of Australia and for a brief amount of time and becomes huge; unavoidable. Remember Wolfmother? Of course you do, you still bleach the parts of your CD rack their album ever sat on. This year it’s been Tame Impala’s time to be unavoidable. What’s that coming out of the TV? It’s the guitar chug of ‘Elephant’, of course. Their take of psychedelic rock was a lot less shredding than Wolfmother’s, but it still brought back days where rock always came in flares and elbow length hair.

POND share two members with Impala, the ‘a bit of everything’ Jay Watson and drummer Cam Avery. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nick Allbrook, guitarist Joseph Ryan and bassist Jamie Terry complete the line up. They also share more than one reference point musically, too.

While Impala’s album was quite distant and unforceful in its attitude to its listener, the vocals in ‘Elephant’ sound like a frontman trying to run away from the microphone, POND eventually kick into motion with an almighty groove. If there’s one thing they want, it’s to grab your full attention. Their introductory note to the record on the NME site reads “get blasted and listen to it on headphones in bed”. A bassline T-Rex could groove to grinds along while sparks of hazy keys form a psychedelic atmosphere on opener ‘Whatever Happened To The Million Head Collide’. And after once teasing you with it, bursts back in with a Black Sabbath riff and Meat Loaf pianos. It’s self indulgent, it’s very, very silly, but man it sounds so good.

The trippier third track ‘O Dharma’ is late period Beatles, all sitar and lush vocal harmonies. We then get some proto-metal (‘Aloneaflameaflower’) followed by some more heavy jamming vibes in ‘Giant Tortoise’. The title track is one of the more interesting moments on the album, vaugely bringing into view some slightly more off beat references such as Faust. With it being the shortest track on the album (at 3:35) it’s certainly the most digestible too.

‘Hobo Rocket’ is a love letter and a greatest hits set all at once. Anyone who has issues with the genre this lot are so infactuated with will have the same issues here as they do with the classics. Individual riffs are fucking ace but it sometimes takes about two minutes of hearing noodling to get to them. The sheer ambition of the production and the breadth of the musicality has to be commended, they’ve certainly made a much more entertaining album than most of their cohorts, leaving the beard scratchy, lecturing attitude at the door and giving the listener sparks of excitement and sometimes downright absurdity to get lost in.

Whether that absurdity will make me put the album on repeat in order to get to the bottom of the nonsense, or whether it will make me just give up and resign myself to a life where hopefully flares will never enter my wardrobe, remains to be seen. Until then though, better cancel my haircut a get into the zone, man.
Nicholas Burman

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