Australia‘s Tame Impala has become one of the biggest musical acts on the festival circuit, but back in 2011 we were lucky enough to catch them in a more reasonably sized 650-capacity venue, while touring in support of their debut album, Innerspeaker. At the time, the band’s rhythm section was comprised of bassist, Nick Allbrook with Jay Watson on drums, and they showcased a much heavier, psychedelic sound than the project has adopted in recent years with the synthed-out throwback grooves of 2015‘s universally acclaimed, Currents album. By now, most people are aware that Tame Impala isn’t so much a band, but the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, Kevin Parker, who has gone on to reach the sort of “success” level that finds one working with Lady Gaga and having Rhianna cover your tunes. What many may still not realize is that the fellow members of his touring band were actually more like members of a larger collective than anything, with them all being multi-instrumentalists working on multiple projects together and Kevin‘s home recorded solo tunes, aka Tame Impala, just happened to be the project that got picked up, at the time. Back then, Nick and Kevin had another fairly intense psych group called Mink Mussel Creek that featured Parker on drums, while Allbrook played guitar and sang — last October, there were reports of them practicing to reunite for a one-off show. Back when we caught them in 2011, Parker had recently become the latest “permanent” drummer for the group, Pond, which again featured Nick Allbrook on vocals, but with Jay Watson on guitar and fellow Mink Mussel Creek member, Joseph Ryan. With Tame Impala getting huuuuuge, it stands to reason that Parker wasn’t going to be holding that drumming gig for long, and Watson was still playing Impala shows as recently as when I saw them last year, but that doesn’t mean that Pond isn’t still going strong with multiple albums of their own under their belt. In fact, Kevin Parker produced their last album, Man, It Feels Like Space Again (2015), as well as their upcoming LP, The Weather, which is currently slated for a May 5th release date.
Now a 4-piece, the initial idea behind Pond was to have it operate as banner of sorts under which a more flexible lineup could exist, giving players the freedom to migrate in and out at will, and manning whatever instruments they felt like, without any consistent obligation, or ego factoring in. In 2009, they even recorded the album Corridors Of Blissterday as a live 8-piece band over a 5-day period. It’s interesting then, that this has mutated into both one of the most “legit” outfits to bloom out of that Perth music scene collective, as well as one of the most focused. One thing that I appreciated was that, while Parker consistently travels further away from the more straight-ahead tripped out psych shit his earlier work was built on, Pond was there to continue delivering it in spades — their last album was a little more space-glam than garage, but still nutty as all get out. That being said, based on the material that we’ve heard from The Weather so far, it does seem like they are really starting to embrace the less aggressive, synth-driven pop tunes, right now, themselves. The important part is that, even with them migrating into a slightly more chill direction, Pond still manages to maintain their own unique voice, separating this outfit not only from the other projects that have been birthed from their own scene at home and/or which they’ve been involved, but within the greater music world at large. In fact, its actually becoming more defined, if anything.
Today, Pond releases the video for their second new single, The Weather‘s opening track “30000 Megatons,” and it’s kind of the jam, kids. It definitely validates the “technicolor odyssey” descriptor that the press releases have been using to promote the new album, but the lyrical content and themes are personally what I find the most intriguing. The track starts off with somewhat of a “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” vibe, and occupies that space between eccentric pop and expansive psychedelic soundscapes, possessing tinges of both David Bowie and Pink Floyd. But, just in case the music doesn’t clamp its soft dripping meat-hooks into you the first time around, Pond has done one better and cut together a video that’s so good, you’ll feel compelled to keep watching the damn thing, allowing it to naturally burrow itself into your spongy grey matter. Essentially a montage film assembled from old vintage commercials and found footage, the video for the track involves such imagery as a man punching a kangaroo, festival crowds, unchecked consumerism, looting, over-population, riot cops, bomber jets, tweaked out ravers, Diet Pepsi, fireworks, a mushroom cloud, GG Allin, and the McRib. Meanwhile, this visual barrage of truth regarding our inherent animal nature and ego-driven addictions, destructive nature, compulsion for acceptance, and consumerism, lines like “30,000 Megatons is just what we deserve” and the call to “push the button now” welcome in the nuclear holocaust as the vocals drift gently past on a wave of shimmering synths, which go on to build in manic intensity. In other words, I’m all right with this.
Nick Allbrook offers the following insight regarding the project:
“It’s a concept album, not completely about Perth, but focusing on all the weird contradictory things that make up a lot of colonial cities around the world. Laying out all the dark things underneath the shimmering exterior of cranes, development, money and white privilege. It’s not our place, but it is our place. British, but Australian, but not REAL Australian. On the edge of the world with a hell of a lot of fucked things defining our little city, still we try and live a wholesome respectful life, while being inherently disrespectful. At the end of all this confusion in our weird little white antipodean world, there’s the beach, purity and nature that brings us all together.“
After releasing their video for “Sweep Me Off My Feet,” which showcased enough smile until your teeth crack and cheeks tear faux-enthusiasm involving romantic young upper-middle-class couples relishing in each others company, pastel wearing suburban families on a sunny beach, and boardrooms of co-worker-encouraging business folks way too stoked to be at at the office — not to mention the obligatory intermittent Jesus cameo — to choke a Close-UP tootpaste commercial, just a little over a week ago, “30000 Tons” is the perfect follow up.
Check out the video below, followed by a current list of North American tour dates.
(The Weather can be pre-ordered in various formats and bundles now, through HERE.)
POND North American Tour Dates: