Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pond - Beard, Wives, Denim | ALBUM REVIEW

Even the most casual reader of Last Nights should be well versed in the myriad permutations psychedelic music has spawned since its inception in the mid-to-late-sixties. Filtered, percolated, and filtered through the decades, the landscape of psychedelic music as we know it today is vast, overwhelming, and at times; daunting. With so much experimentation and envelope-pushing occurring within the genre, it can be quite refreshing to hear a psych-rock band whose only goal seems to be having a great time re-interpreting all of their favorite records, all while scorching your face clean off . If this sounds like a good ol' time to you, Pond are your band.

The story begins within the rural confines of a Western Australian farmhouse, with three friends (Nik Albrook, Joseph Orion, and Jay Watson) converting the old place into a home studio. Over two weeks of what sound like debauchery filled evenings; Pond somehow managed to lay to tape a blistering yet lovely collection of 13 tunes recalling an array of beloved psych and hard rock bands, ranging from Floyd, The Dead, and The Beatles, to Sabbath, Pink Fairies, and even a fair dose of Zeppelin. Though they've released three albums in the past, their latest, Beard Wives and Denim is the first to gain the band true exposure, thanks to the success of two-thirds of Pond's other project, Tame Impala, whose 2010 debut InnerSpeaker just happened to take home the coveted J Award in their native Australia.

Beard, Wives, and Denim is chock full of highlights. The first half of the record brims with the playful genre bending Pond is so adept at. “Fantastic Explosion of Time,” is one of my favorite opening tracks in recent memory. Beginning with a casual, charming bit of studio chatter before barreling into a grnarly overdriven guitar riff (that wouldn't sound strange on a Tame Impala track.) The song is a brilliantly fun psych romp, complete with spastic Syd Barrett style vocals frenetic drum breaks. Then comes “When it Explodes,” a soaring slide-guitar led tune that transforms from an overdriven country-rock banger into a synth-laden noise jam that is sure to scare your mother off from ever enjoying this record. That is, unless your mother enjoys noisy, effect driven noodling in which case, you've got a very hip mama. Following this one-two punch is a little psych-pop nugget entitled “Elegant Design,” in which the band's hard-rocking guitar sound and 60's pop sensibilities meet beautifully in the middle, rounding out the brilliant attack of the record's first three tracks. “Sorry I was Under the Sky” is a trance inducing floater, showcasing the band's Floyd-ian tendencies, likely to seduce you into forgetting what you were just doing.

Unfortunately, the record does have its flaws and missed marks. For starters, it feels extremely front-heavy, as many records do these days. It's almost as if in sequencing the record, the band knew most folks would only make it through side A, so they loaded it with the album's best cuts. This doesn't mean there aren't gems to be found within the album's latter half, as out-and-out rocker “Leisure Pony” deomstrates, it's just that one finds their attention span being stretched thin. Which brings me to the only other glaring flaw on Beard, Wives, Denim; it's running time. Though sixty minutes may not seem over the top for a modern psych-rock record, the album certainly seems to drag in spots.

These are merely minor defects on an overall extremely charming, lovable record. Any musician should feel right at home listening to it. It's the boisterously joyful sound of your and your friends' first band, drunken laughs and chatter left intact. It's an incredibly endearing record in that respect. Though all members of Pond are seaseoned veterans of the Western Australian psych-rock scene (as mentioned, two thirds play in the also excellent Tame Impala, with main Impala Kevin Barker hitting the skins with Pond on tour,) Beard, Wives, Denim sounds wholly unpretentious and without reserve, it's just the wicked noise of three buddies getting stoned in a rural farmhouse, having the time of their lives.

Pond's self-titled album is available via Modular. Pond is currently on an appropriately massive 70's style world tour, you can find those dates here.

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