In a July 2015 article by The Guardian, Kevin Parker recounted his extremely successful musical career.
Parker, the mastermind behind the Aussie psych act Tame Impala and the producer of the new Pond album “Tasmania,” recalled the events leading to his slick, festival-friendly Tame Impala album, “Currents.”
“A friend was driving us around L.A. in this old sedan … for some reason we’d taken mushrooms … I was listening to [the Bee Gees track] ‘Staying Alive’ … the beat felt overwhelmingly strong and, at that moment, it sounded pretty psychedelic. It moved me, and that’s what I always want out of psych music. I want it to transport me.”
The ties between Tame Impala and Pond are deep, and just as “Currents” saw Tame Impala trade in rock for pop, Pond has splashed in its footsteps. “Tasmania,” released last Friday, is the triumphant follow up to Pond’s 2017 effort, “The Weather,” which featured heroic songwriting, timeless riffs and enough quotable quips to give most slam poets a run for their money.
The album contradicted any naysayers who dismissed Pond as nothing more than Tame Impala’s touring band.
“Tasmania” is the equivalent of draping a soft, silky blanket over a sleepy “The Weather” — sleepy in the sense of dreamlike, akin to hovering above the clouds in a new-wave magic carpet.
The first track, “Daisy,” is the liftoff; reverberating analog synths fuel the ascent, and frontman Nick Allbrook anthems like a chorus of angels guiding the path. “Thank you, darling, for these silver gelatine echoes of me, with you/smiling like he has to for the cause/for the tribe, for the boys, for the lie,” Albrook recites. This is until the apex of the flight, where everything comes to a halt and an explosive kick drum punches into a textured, worldly pop song.
The worldliness doesn’t stop there. The title track expands the space around listeners’ minds with assumably electronic but nearly African choral bursts. Allbrook almost tears up while mourning the reality of climate change. “I might go shack up in Tasmania/before the ozone goes/and paradise burns in Australia/who knows, who knows?” he laments. Occasionally, these four lines will peek out elsewhere on the album, just to ground the listener to make sure they aren’t too far out in space.
Australia has experienced the brunt of the global warming; extreme heat waves ravaging the country and the recent announcement that half of the Great Barrier Reef is dead unfortunately leave Pond speaking from experience.
“Burnt Out Star” puts these lyrics in another context. A burning string section sets listeners peering down on the Earth in pure appreciation. It is the perfect soundtrack to silent admiration of the things in life that add meaning. Allbrook pulls a move from the Jim Morrison handbook later in the song as he spits nearly undecipherable poetry over a driving groove set by the band.
While Tame Impala remains the better-known and more celebrated act, there are a few ways that Pond has a leg up. It’s hard to find a frontman as intriguing and animated as Allbrook. His spitting yet tender Australian accent throughout “Tasmania” evokes images of a Gary Newman-ified Billy Idol. Pond has been long known for its explosive live shows, much to the credit of this man.
The cover art of “Tasmania” features angled stripes of vibrant color, starting with blue and slowly progressing into dark red. It represents not only the vibrancy of the music, but the slow, heartbreaking warming of planet Earth. What’s worse is humans are responsible. It would be hard to witness something like that and not have a visceral reaction. For Pond, music is a stimulus-response behavior — a natural product of being human.