Pond - ‘Hobo Rocket’
Right now Pond are as relevant to modern music as an egoistic, scantily clad Elephant who ‘ironically’ twirks at award shows - and that happens to be exactly the kind of imagery new album ‘Hobo Rocket’ could conjure from its deep, enthralling cauldron of colour. Riding that unbelievable wave emanating from the sun kissed shores of Perth, alongside fellow brain-fryers Tame Impala, Pond are part of a movement encompassing the globe and drenching it in just such giant mammals. But with ‘Hobo Rocket’ being the fifth studio album to be released by the band – does it have the ability to achieve real crossover success where previous efforts have come so close?
The first thing that strikes you about ‘Hobo Rocket’ is that it’s an album drenched to the skin with all the hallmarks of psychedelic rock. You can hear it in the verging on clumsy freak out during the opening track, a masterful guitar and synth display boiled down to reveal a Beatles-esque quirky riff, which sets one of two tones for the record – rebellious, kaleidoscopic killer. This is carried on by recent single ‘Xanman’, who’s spiked vocal harmonies and toxic lyrics manipulate those 60’s psych tunes into something far more interesting. “So I take my pills and forget how still/I’m barely a boy” sings Nick Allbrook, spinning a very personal tale of his life in the Perth music scene.
The second face of this album peeps out from behind the curtain on tracks like ‘O Dhaama’, where Allbrook replicates the atmosphere of wondering the streets at four in the morning, and filled with quite reflection he sings “if you listen and don’t shout/you can hear the way she feels”. His vocals are laid bare and exposed amongst sparse guitars, the opening of this tune could be compared to tunes on Girl’s album ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ if it has been left out in the sun too long. Album closer ‘Midnight Mass’ manages to create an equally sombre mood by coupling harsh, brutal and industrial strength guitars with a strange sense of soul injected by the tender and spiritual lyrics.
By far the stand out moment is when the title track it’s self erupts from the deluge bellow and “riding through the universe at twice the speed of light” they thrust themselves into the stratospheric heights of the much adored ‘Elephant’. It’s up beat day glow riff and refrain of “star rider” sung by local hero Cowboy John create an alternative anthem with the blueprints to the minds of a generation, and the motive to do something with them. But even I can admit it falls just short of the mark required to attract some real mainstream attention.
‘Hobo Rocket’ then is a deliciously intricate record, with stark contrasts and the ability to inject emotion into the sometimes impenetrable world of psych rock. By staying so true to the scene that birthed them, Pond have created a self indulgent record ,that once you allow yourself to be immersed in, gives you an insight into a world of unimaginable colour and sound. It may lack the punchier choruses and accessibility of close allies Tame Impala, but to a select few, this album will be a timeless classic.