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Even if you’re from the most insular, incestuous musical scene in the most isolated city on the planet, people will still stand up and take notice if the music you make is as good as POND’s.
Over a couple of months Nick, Joe, Jay, Jamie, Lukas, Cam and a parade of friends and well-wishers cobbled together a mountain of tape that was stitched up to become POND’s sixth studio album.
“It had already been worked out,” Nick Allbrook explains, “but in the spirit of impulsiveness and lunacy it got shattered and scattered and pissed on and blow-dried in a small studio in Collingwood, Melbourne.”
Man It Feels Like Space Again lives up to the inherent wonder in its title, a sweeping collection of warm, warped psychedelic gems. It brings to mind the work of The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, mid-‘70s Lennon, MGMT, Todd Rundgren, Supergrass and any number of other genre-hopping sonic/space-explorers.
The album covers an extraordinary amount of ground in its 45 minutes. Opener ‘Waiting Around For Grace’ sounds like an FM pop hit beamed in from a nearby planet, all wonky propulsion and giddy hooks – the perfect opening blast. ‘Elvis’s Flaming Star’ stomps like a ‘70s glam band coached by Bowie, before collapsing into and out of a mid-tune daydream.
“As a fly on the wall it must resemble a cruel Moreau-esque experiment inflicted on dumb ravenous loud beasts”, says Allbrook of their off-kilter recording methods, “some kind of multipurpose otter-tank/chimp-enclosure/dog-training facility with strobe lights.”
Elsewhere on the record there are blissed-out ballads (‘Sitting Up On Our Crane’, ‘Holding Out For You’), twisted, futuristic raves (‘Zond’), lysergic epics drenched in reverb (‘Heroic Shart’), and the gorgeous 6/8 classic ‘Medicine Hat’.
By the time you hit the finale: the out-of-control, ever-shifting eight-minute title track, it definitely feels like space… again, man.
Hailing from Perth, Australia, POND formed in 2008 as an all-inclusive, ego-free collective spawned from numerous other interlocked bands and projects: Mink Mussel Creek, Allbrook/Avery, and Tame Impala.
The guys – Joseph Ryan, Nick Allbrook, and Jay Watson – immediately set about recording their debut album Psychedelic Mango, with a little help from good friend Kevin Parker, the maestro behind the lush-sounding Tame Impala records. They then followed up this first record only months later with Corridors of Blissterday, a frenzied effort recorded live by an expanded eight-piece lineup.
2010 saw their third album Frond – a kaleidoscopic classic loosely inspired by a diet of Prince and Fleetwood Mac records – find a national audience and attract industry attention. 2012’s Beard, Wives, Denim was recorded on a farm a few hours South-West of Perth and remains a triumph of eclecticism and good humour. The record was the band’s most solid effort to date, and their first to receive a worldwide release.
A North American tour ensued, with the band smashing though 31 shows – including eight at South By South West. Not surprisingly, they were one of the most talked-about bands of the festival. From there, they returned to Australia and sold out a national tour before unleashing their live show upon the UK and Europe, causing NME to tag them “the hottest band in the world right now” as well as proclaiming Beard, Wives, Denim “quite possibly the best album released so far this year”. Then came 2013’s Hobo Rocket, their fifth album in as many years, and another critical triumph.
Considering how much of 2014 POND has spent in the air bouncing between time zones, it is of little surprise they named their sixth record Man It Feels Like Space Again.
First there was a run of arena shows supporting the Arctic Monkeys throughout Australia, before the band hit Primavera Spain, Primavera Portugal, and Field Day in the UK. Somehow, during all that live domination, they found the time to record another album, this time in Melbourne with Lukas Glickman and Kevin Parker at the helm.
The band is on the road as we speak, on a headlining tour of the US – they’ll end this leg in the most spooktacular fashion: a Halloween show in LA, before heading down South America way to slay a few massive music festivals.
Come January 26, the world will get to experience the band’s new album, Man It Feels Like Space Again – their most striking statement to date. In Australia the album release will coincide with the band being part of the travelling Laneway Festival madness.
Man It Feels Like Space Again, out January 26, 2015
1. Waiting Around For Grace
2. Elvis’ Flaming Star
3. Holding Out For You
5. Heroic Shart
6. Sitting Up On Our Crane
7. Outside Is The Right Side
8. Medicine Hat
9. Man It Feels Like Space Again