Editor’s Note: [I wrote this 2 years ago when POND released The Weather. POND’s newest album is Tasmania, so don’t forget to listen to that record, too. It’s great. This article continues my series of unreleased material. More coming soon]
If you don’t want The Weather’s nihilistic themes to bring you down, do this. According to positive psychology, to stay happy you need to follow the 3:1 positive to negative rule. So for every one nihilistic Pond song you listen to, listen to “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles three times to repress the dark feelings and repeat until you get through the whole POND album.
“Is tha someone else in on the lion?” Pond frontman Nicholas Allbrook asks over-the-phone in his thick Aussie accent. There is an awkward pause after this question. Because of a scheduling mix-up, a PR agent put me through to Allbrook while he was in the middle of another interview. I excuse myself, hang up, and wait for 10 minutes until we are able to connect again.
If you know who Tame Impala is then chances are you’ve heard of POND. Allbrook was the touring bassist for Tame Impala from 2008 to 2013 and Kevin Parker of Tame Impala was involved with POND from 2009 to 2011. Parker stepped away as POND’s drummer in 2011 to focus on Tame Impala — to jerk off his acolytes (To be clear, I am a fan) who never picked up a vastly superior Dungen record (I’m also a fan of this band and Parker is too, so listen to them). Despite his departure, Parker still makes himself available to help produce POND’s albums. Allbrook insists that “Kevin [Parker] has the golden ticket to the band, he is always welcome, he’s grandfathered in.”
However, POND is a different beast from Tame Impala. If Tame Impala is the bright groovy conscious part of the mind, POND is the deep dark unconscious. Instead of taking cues from the Beatles, Supertramp, and The Flaming Lips — as mentioned by Parker on a Sound Opinions episode — Allbrook was inspired by 70’s glam rock (think Marc Bolan and Mott the People) and these influences are clear as day on The Weather. Allbrook also mentions Travis Scott, Jay Dilla, and new era Kanye a la The Life of Pablo as inspiration, and although some tracks do contain samples, I’m not sure how these influences factored into the new record. To me, POND’s newest album sounds like if Marc Bolan tried to sound like the Beatles while trying to play prog rock. It’s messy but brilliant.
Allbrook described The Weather in a press announcement as “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.” When I asked what he meant by this, Allbrook responded that this was said with some irony, but it something that he believes to be true. “Behind every civilization there is an English man twirling his monocle, drinking his gin and tonic. There is a lot of repression and a lot of blood that was spilled to build up the empire.”
The way The Weather came together was a happy accident. According to Allbrook, when they finished laying down the tracks, the record came together in an unexpected way — or so the myth-making goes. They just wanted to make an honest album. “Well it really wasn’t intended to be a concept album, it turned out a lot more linear than expected,” says Albrook. “It’s something that is kinda hard to articulate… but we are generally coming from a place of more honesty. There is definitely less psychedelic bullshit thrown in,” says Allbrook with a laugh.
A strain of the Frankfurt School Deconstruction is also found in the video for “Sweep Me Off My Feet” — the album’s single. The video consists of stock footage of happy families living a picturesque life juxtaposed by a glammed out Allbrook singing about his penis and his shame (Lacan can apply here). Allbrook explains that: “the song is about wanting to live the ideal perfect life, and the stock footage I thought was a good representation of that unrealistic expectation.” To Allbrook, life is now a commodified idea, but a cheap knock off which is doomed to fall apart. If it’s realized, it’s only for a moment. Skin sags and wrinkles, houses get foreclosed on, marriages crumble, people get hooked on crystal meth, and a link which describes something new and exciting is just mundane clickbait designed to increase ad revenue.
Although honest about the dark side of life, Allbrook realizes there is a reason why people repress these negative thoughts and feelings. “I think everyone gets fed up when things get stacked up and get too heavy and you think why can’t the world grace just smile upon me,” says Allbrook.
Allbrook’s view of life is akin to a bomb that wants to love and destroy. This tension is evident in the album and is perfectly articulated in “30,000 Megatons” where he sings about his desire to blow up the world. When I ask him about it, he explains: “I want everything to be blown up sometimes, but at the same time, I desperately don’t want that to happen.” Let’s just hope things don’t have to blow up for them to change.