Will Pond ever escape comparison to Tame Impala? Probably not. With their shared pool of band members, label, nationality, fans and musical inclinations, it’s hard not to line up their releases when there’s so much common ground. Of course Tame Impala are the more popular, but Pond have had their moments of brilliance too - let down only by a less meticulous release history. Their six albums, three of them released on Modular Recordings, (the Australian home of Melody’s Echo Chamber, The Avalanches, and of course Tame Impala), belt out hedonistic psychedelia with little regard for who’s listening. On Man It Feels like Space Again, it’s more of the same – a scattershot album of great riffs, shit riffs, blistering soundscapes and occasional boredom.
Collaborator and in charge of mixing duties this new Pond album was Kevin Parker, the one man band behind Tame Impala. Whilst Parker's Innerspeaker and Lonerism sacrifice a pinch of authenticity for accessibility (even Parker has referred to the latter as a pop album), Pond's music laughs at the idea of pop and instead adds distortion, mud and obscurity, in slightly varying amounts. Despite strong results in the past, this time these elements have ultimately combined to make a sort of erratic psychedelic porridge; boring in more than a few places, and a bit much for anyone other than the genre's keenest fans.
Pond have some great tracks in their back catalogue, and you can tell they still know how to write some great riffs. "Elvis' Flaming Star" and "Outside Is The Right Side" both belt out their respective flicks with plenty of pomp. But they lack consistency. Too often do tracks start off strong only to drift off into disinterest, decompose into mindless looping, or smother a melody under layers of fuzz.
Kelly Griffin's 2013 review described previous album Hobo Rocket’s lowlights as "somewhat inaccessible; fairly unmemorable, and devoid of strong hooks in either guitar or vocal melodies". I can't entirely disagree. Man It Feels Like Space Again suffers from many of the same problems. Perhaps Parker’s Tame Impala project is in part to blame for both raising the bar and shifting it into the mainstream. Lonerism was a pop record first, psychedelic voyage second. Much like with MGMT, Cut Copy, Klaxons, M83, you're lured into a niche genre that the albums themselves only reference or take inspiration from. It makes you think you might like, or understand the full depth of the music. Pond's latest album is a more authentic take on psychedelia, but it’s a genre that won’t ever gain as huge an audience as those that sell its image over its music. Unfortunately for Pond, this makes for a less popular record.