Pond – Hobo Rocket
Pond don’t just let their influences show. They pay for huge gaudy billboards by the side of the busiest freeway and write them in large letters for everyone to see. Heavy bass and deep fuzz guitar on ‘Aloneaflameaflower’? That’ll be Black Sabbath. Downward cascading arpeggios on ‘Xanman’? That’s so ‘Helter Skelter’. Swirling psychedelia with funky bass on ‘Giant Tortoise’? That’s trademark Australadelia. Tame Impala anyone? Well, you’d be just about right there. Pond and Tame Impala have about 60 per cent of their personnel in common. So, even if Pond are the heavier, early 70s metal version of Tame Impala, the cracks are wide enough to see right through. But there the resemblances just about end. Tame Impala are by far the more creative. Pond the more derivative. The songs work best when the Sabbath-y guitars aren’t centre stage. The title track with its fantastically approximate vocals from Cowboy John (me neither) works a treat. The Tangerine Dream-like loopy synth that closes off the last four minutes of ‘Midnight Mass (At The Market St. Payphone)’ sounds fantastic. Best of all, the more laid back ‘O Dharma’ sounds genuinely nice. And that’s a complement in this context. Too often, though, the songs still sound a little too unstructured. Off-the-cuff studio ideas that needed a little more work. More than that, there a sense that some of the tracks don’t quite cut it precisely because Pond are a band trying not to sound too much like Tame Impala. They fail, obviously. But there are definitely times when you want Tame Impala to get hold of them and wrap them right the way around that wah-wah pedal. The result would be friendlier, dancier, newer. That Pond can play isn’t in any doubt. But they need to write a little bit more, embrace their inner Impala, and just groove.