I should know more about Pond, and you should know more about Pond. So let’s learn about the second most-famous band out of Western Australia at the moment together, because if there’s one thing University has taught us, there’s nothing better than palming off work to others under the dubious guise of ‘group study.’ I’m pretty sure I heard about this freewheeling five-to-seven-to-whatever piece from a good friend of mine who worked for an independent record label called FUSE that had something to do with their first two releases. Those were largely independent affairs, and unless you were as cool as Bridie, chances are they would have flown completely under your radar as they did mine. But then a very fortunate thing happened to this collective, which just so happened to be their other band. You may have heard of them; they’re called Tame Impala. And they just so happen share multiple members with this group, including, for a spell, main man Kevin Parker. So now there’s a far higher chance of all of us knowing who Pond are and pretending we were cool enough to be spinning their records way back in 2008.
You’ll have a hard time finding any of those earlier records on streaming services, thanks to a convenient nameshare with a ’90s band from Portland, but one you will definitely locate is called Beard, Wives, Denim. That came out in 2010 and took a lot of Pond’s jamming, all-in psychedelia and honed it down to a crunchy blues snack that can be enjoyed by people not currently on drugs of the same name. It’s on this album – released by Modular, no less – that Tame Impala guitarist and Pond frontman Nick Allbrook really gets to shine. I had the pleasure of stumbling onto the band’s set at Laneway festival a few weeks ago, and to see Allbrook perform is a complete gift. He has absolutely zero cares in the world about playing it cool or being reserved, instead evoking the rock and roll heroes of yesteryear by writhing all over the place and going completely out of his head at every given opportunity. In the meantime, he can really sing, and his band, amped up from the fact that they’re not in The Important Group today (what a problem to have!) are so entertaining to watch. They’re equally as enticing on record, laying on the Zeppelin-esque riffage on ‘Elegant Design’, right down to the hilarious falsetto chorus.
What I love about these guys (and all their associates) is the fact that despite their self-affirmed status as loose units who do whatever they want and just so happen to pump out songs, their production speaks otherwise. There’s been a lot of care put into these tracks, and ‘Elegant Design’ is a great example. The drums sound note-for-note like a Bonham or Moon kit, all big snares and huge, aggressive cymbals that are way more prominent than you would expect them to be. The guitar tones are pure, late-’60s indulgence, piling in on top of each other to create a thick bed of chorus sound that’s topped off by the cherry on top that is the lead solo line. Smatterings of organs there, a half-time outro that could be Pink Floyd there, it’s all happening. Somehow, though, Pond seem to carve out their own slice and dangle it in front of you in a similar way their other band does with the best work of The Beatles and The Stones. There’s no way you can pull off this kind of music without being at least remotely talented and also slightly unhinged. That’s an excellent combination and Pond – surprise surprise – are an excellent band.
Educate yourself in their bouncy, bluesy ways. Their time is pretty much now.
Pond – ‘Elegant Design’