Hobo Rocket, Keeping Pond Afloat in the Psychedelic Space
We featured Pond as our The Next Big Thing a couple of weeks back, and now the Aussie band is offering us proof that we hadn’t made a mistake by doing so.
Hobo Rocket, their fifth album, was finally released on August 2nd. And to say that Pond is on fire would be an understatement: the guys have produced five albums in the span of five years since their formation. And with them, it’s not the common tale of I’m-aiming-for-commercial-success-so-I-force-myself-to-be-productive like so many artists have fallen trap into nowadays. It seems like their heads are just so full with ideas that they simply can’t contain it all inside anymore, and those ideas found their way out themselves.
The album opens with Whatever Happened To The Million Head Collide, giving us a warm up before we move on deeper into the album, with such futuristic notes that somehow still have a trace of vintage feel amidst the modern vibe. The drums in the background work so well with the tingling synthesizers and vocalist, Nick Allbrook’s yowls and occasional chants. Allbrook’s scream in the middle of the song should’ve felt out of place. But miraculously, it doesn’t. It actually works with the pace of the whole song. As the song breaks into a full-on guitar riffs, you can’t help but lose yourself to the rock ‘n roll feel that lulls your subconscious into a state of trance. And it’s just the beginning.
“Xanman, Xanman. She wouldn’t understand, you were crying for your man!” Allbrook cries in the second track, Xanman. Within the first twenty seconds of the song, we are treated with the buzzing guitar that reminds us a bit with the one from the other track off Hobo Rocket: Giant Tortoise. The free-wheeling cymbals and intense loopy vortex made for hallucinogenic songwriting.
O Dharma, on the other hand, is something of a half-awake state of mind. It’s trippy and swirly, peaceful and serene—the kind of music that drowns you in a wave of positivity. Followed by Alone A Flame A Flower, a druggy, psychedelic-heavy tune, the album is brought into a halt. It’s like Pond is giving us a short break from the energetic, explosive, head-banging mood the first two songs had set up.
Hobo Rocket is full of vocals drenched in reverb, thunderous drumming, and ominous riffs as well as stabbing piano. The majority of these elements are showed in Giant Tortoise, which also happened to be the first single to be released from the album. The song gives you goosebumps, as you can feel its richness through the guitar that sounds like amplifier being fed through a filter.
Come the time for us to listen to the title track, Hobo Rocket, and our interest is instantly piqued by the spoken work poetry (performed by Cowboy John). It’s chaotic and slightly schizophrenic, and in the middle of his rambling you can hear John asking the band: “What kind of drugs you boys on?” The track is a free-flowing jam and frankly, it’s not really essential, but you got to give Pond a credit for making it as listenable as everything else on the album.
The album closes with Midnight Mass, a dreamy, heavy psych-rock that’s filled with skeletal keyboards. It’s taken to climax with Allbrook’s scream one minute into the song, and the thrill is prolonged by the drum-led freak out repete and spacey effects.
All in all, Hobo Rocket is no doubt a psychedelic beast. It’s rough; explosive; but with pedal bursts, percussion, and synth warps that are stitched skillfully. Afterall, Nick Allbrook himself had labeled the album as “…jammy, and sloppy as sh*t.” And like everything Pond has ever done, it reeks of raw emotions and passion, while still managing to be so carefully-assembled. The songs feel inaccessible, unmemorable, and the distortion that’s present throughout the album makes it indecipherable. But it works for Pond. Just like the work of Vincent Van Gogh, you don’t have to really understand it to know that it’s beautiful. Hobo Rocket might not be as ace as its predecessor, Beard, Wives, Denim, and it doesn’t really take Pond to the next level. But it’s a piece of art in its own way, and ensures Pond’s consistency in creating decent music.