Fairly or unfairly, there may never be a review for this band where the words “Tame Impala” aren’t mentioned in unison. Beginning as a sort of sister act, with members floating from band to band like leaves in a warm Australian breeze, Pond have never really managed to tear away the tag. Such is the cultural and musical impact Tame Impala has created in the world of psychedelic rock — it’s an inevitability that people want to talk about them. Given Pond’s efficiency in locking and loading a new album every two years, they’ve become the conversation starter.
It’s a bummer, and one wonders why this band hasn’t done more to yank on the spotlight. They could have anyone produce their latest record Tasmania, and yet Kevin Parker still takes the reigns, which in turn becomes an easy access point for anyone wanting to divert the discussion away from the band’s own merits. Especially given the fact Kevin Parker’s production, as always, is worth talking about. Direct, smooth, and distinct, his irresistible musical fingertips are evident all over this new album. There’s loads to be said about it: the way the music flows, the mastery of how it’s mixed, the 80’s sting, the modern flair. But in my opinion, it’s a testament to Pond that Kevin Parker’s production is not anywhere near the most interesting talking point, but rather the music that’s being produced in the first place.
It can’t be overstated how great Pond are at making fun, catchy, and euphoric pop songs. Like the rainbow encompassing the cover art, this band manages to capture every color on a wild musical palette. Whether it’s the oozing bouncy synths on “Hand Mouth Dancer”, the groovy bass line on “Tasmania”, or the ripping guitar leads in “Daisy”, the band leave no stone unturned. They’re essentially the musical equivalent of that kindergarten kid who mixes every paint together in art class to see what color they’re left with. The answer, quite simply, is all of them and all at once.
For the listener, it’s a musical feast, but the sound of the music alone is not the sole reason behind Pond’s brilliance. Perhaps it was, once upon a time, in the band’s early days as the wild and wacky (here’s that name again) Tame Impala offshoot. But what makes Pond’s latest output so distinctive and superior to their earlier efforts is actually a sense of melancholy that lies within the colorful euphoria; a nostalgia for how things were and a fear for how things will turn out to be, all rested underneath the belly of fun and foot tapping funk songs. This is largely due to the brain of frontman Nick Allbrook, who remains one of the best lyrical geniuses to come out of Australia’s music scene.
“It’s Spring,” the opening track begins, “and the cherry blossoms sprout, the legs are out, and the bronzed chests, and fires bejeweling the south west”. This line is a lyrical embodiment of the climate crisis going on in the world right now. As a single lyric, it perfectly sums up the underlying effort of the album; to juxtapose the pretty with the pretty horrifying in such a way that you might not even realize the horror exists. But it does exist. Climate change is very real. But much like our real world situation, everyone’s sunglasses might be tinted just enough to blur out it’s consequences. Because hell, it’s sunny right? Let’s enjoy it.
Not Nick Allbrook though. In a recent interview he describes Australia’s weather conditions as “terrifying”, and his fear for the future becomes a focal point throughout this album, not least with the repeated line which crops up in two separate songs. “I might go and shack up in Tasmania, before the ozone goes and paradise burns in Australia, who knows?” Tasmania, then, both as an island and the album itself, evokes the form of a haven for both Nick and the listener. It’s a safe house, spruced up in bright rainbow colors, which we can lose ourselves in whilst the world outside burns to death. While that might seem a bit bleak, it’s the sort of music that feels necessary in days like today, and as mentioned before the sound remains euphoric. The house is vibrant, the rooms are comforting, but it just so happens to be a house with a view, and the landscape Nick paints is an unnerving one. That melancholy word crops up once again. But the music’s good. Tasmania is one of Pond’s best record’s to date. And who knows, maybe we’ll be lucky. Maybe the world will come to it’s senses. Perhaps Australia won’t burn after all. But saying that, if Tasmania sounds like this, who the hell would want to leave it either way?