If you’re a fan of psychedelic-sounding indie music, you may well have heard of POND. If not, now’s a good time to start listening. Man It Feels Like Space Again is their sixth album, and follows on cohesively from their previous ventures. Space is the key term in the title that characterises the album, as the songs intersperse hazy synthesisers and guitars with a galactic edge.
The first track, Waiting Around For Grace, immediately sets a high bar for the rest of the album. It immediately reminds me of Giant Tortoise, one of the prominent songs from their previous album, Hobo Rocket. The song starts with a flood of instruments and vocals that is almost the musical equivalent of a sunrise, before it crashes into a delightful cacophony of synthesizers and guitars. After this point, the album picks up a lively melody that is present in each of the following songs. The tone of the songs is rarely morose, and keeps a constant pace.
The second track, Elvis’ Flaming Star, sounds bizarrely like an eighties pop track, maybe something that AHA might have created if they were flip-flop wearing Australians. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it displays that this album draws more on pop influences than the heavier-sounding Hobo Rocket. Similarly, Holding Out For You is a buoyant song, the synths making it sound almost like it has a string orchestra.
In contrast, Zond seems to have a funk tone to it, as if it were something you’d dance to. The perhaps inappropriately named Heroic Shart has more of POND’s typical garage rock tones. However, it is clear throughout this album that, while a fair amount of the songs appear to draw from different influences, the entire sound of the album is consistent. The album is very well textured, with hazy, almost unrecognisable vocals, and the odd falsetto weaved in with percussion, synth, and guitars. None of the individual elements are drowned out, which makes for a gratifying listening experience.
Another personal favourite of mine is Sitting Up On Our Crane, which has a zoned-out, nonchalant feeling, with droning instrumentals and falsettos. The lyrics encapsulate the sun-drenched laziness that this song seems to exude, with vocals (sung by Jay Watson, as opposed to Nick Allbrook, the lead) exclaiming “It always feels the same when we’re up high” and “I wanna get drunk”, making this the soundtrack to a hot Summer’s day drinking beer with your mates (sadly not something one can do in Exeter’s current chill).
A song towards the end of the album, Medicine Hat, starts off acoustic and thus feels somewhat out of place. However, it breaks into synth mid-way, joining up with the cohesiveness of the rest of the record.
Overall, is it genre-defying? Probably not. It’s very consistent with what they’ve made before. This isn’t a downfall though, as the album has enough substance to warrant multiple listens, albeit being lighter and more buoyant than Hobo Rocket. If you’re already into POND, you’d do well to get this album. If you’re a fan of Tame Impala, a band with whom POND share many members, then this album is also a good pick, as there are hints of their 2010 album, Lonerism, in it. In conclusion, a strong album from one of Australia’s popular musical exports.