Release Date: Mar 6, 2012
Record label: Modular Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
The last time Tame Impala played in London, literally every musician who has ever said the word “psychedelic” in an NME interview was present, because they’d all had their heads bent by their fabulously acid-drenched album ‘Innerspeaker’. So drenched was it, in fact, that many of those musicians suspected that there must be something in the water down under in Perth. This record – the fourth by Pond, who feature members of Tame, but are NOT a side-project – confirms those suspicions.
Kevin Parker is nothing if not productive: his own Tame Impala project made one of the albums of the year, Lonerism; he collaborated with Melody Prochet on her lovely dreampop album, Melody's Echo Chamber, and produced (and drummed) on Pond's fourth album, featuring a couple of his Tame Impala bandmates (though recorded in 2010, it didn't emerge until March this year). The similarities are obvious: Beard, Wives, Denim shares a lot of its psych-rock DNA with Parker's day job, sometimes down to chord sequences (Elegant Design is all but indistinguishable from Tame Impala's sunnier moments). But it's different enough to feel like a companion piece rather than a knock-off: less laboured over, more the sound of a rock band kicking back, and less alienated, perhaps the result of Pond being a band of co-operating friends rather than a studio project that expands for the stage.
Since Tame Impala guitarist Nick Albrook is also Pond's chief songwriter and there are a few lineup overlaps, comparisons between the two Australian neo-psych pop groups are inevitable. Unlike Innerspeaker, super-producer Dave Fridmann doesn't man the boards on this one, but the farmhouse production is affected with virtually the same tape echo, leslie speaker wobble, and vintage guitar tones. This puts the two on the same sonic playing field, but because of Pond's willingness to take risks, Beard, Wives, Denim doesn't feel distinctive or as firmly indebted to classic psychedelic music.
More often than not, most side-projects and spin-off bands don't spin very far from their respective musical mothership. Take the charmingly shambling Pond, a psych-rocking Australian three-piece that shares two members with Tame Impala, the psych-rocking Australian four-piece responsible for 2010's terrific Innerspeaker. That debut put a revisionist spin on guitar-driven psychedelia so much so that, unlike other bands mining for retrograded, kaleidoscopic gold, Innerspeaker felt beholden to no specific time or place.
The trio of Pond takes the psych influence that comes from sharing two members of Tame Impala and adds a freeform rock flavor distinctly their own. Recorded in 2010, Beard, Wives, Denim is the group’s once shelved fourth release that’s now serving as their introduction onto the Modular Label. Pond creates the same articulately layered soundscapes as those of Tame Impala, but Pond seems more willing to experiment and creates a sound rich in spirited excitement.
‘Beard, Wives, Denim’ from Pond is a modern psychedelic record. This is a funny fact for two reasons. For one; when the kids of today think of psychedelic rock, they think of the kids of the past swinging their long hair about and so it seems like an art form of the past. Secondly, psychedelic rock can often be quite funny due to the ridiculous song and album titles, case in point: ‘Beard, Wives, Denim’.
It's impossible to talk about Pond without mentioning Tame Impala. Both Jay Watson and Nick Allbrook play in the Western Australian psych group and Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker mixed the band's fourth record, Beard, Wives, Denim. Pond don't stray too far from the psychedelic sounds of Tame Impala, but the trio (rounded out by Joseph Ryan) let loose on opener "Fantastic Explosion of Time," which owes as much to the Troggs as the 13th Floor Elevators.