Pond — not to be confused with the fresh-faced early-’90s Sub Pop trio of the same name — are one of the parallel musical universes, alongside Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala, in psychedelia-crazy Perth, Australia. While Parker, as per 2012 album title Lonerism, pumped all the sounds thereon into a laptop solo, his touring version of Tame has variously included three members of Pond — vocalist Nick Allbrook, guitarist Jay Watson and drummer Cam Avery.
Indeed, the release of Pond’s fourth album, Beard, Wives, Denim was held up for 18 months, until March, 2012, while Impala criss-crossed the globe. Incredibly, between further tours, Allbrook, Watson and Avery’s team have stockpiled both Hobo Rocket, and a further album called Man, It Feels Like Space Again, which should surface in early ’14. It’s an almost absurdly fertile scene, but one listen to the frazzled lunacy of this first waxing offers more than sufficient persuasion to stay tuned.
Hobo Rocket is the five-piece combo’s effort to capture the explosive and often ear-splitting energy of Pond onstage — a stark contrast to Parker’s virtually stacked-up recordings. Instead, it has all the squealingly chaotic, hypermelodic thrill of The Flaming Lips’ early freakout psych-pop LPs, such as 1989′s Telepathic Surgery and ’93′s Transmissions from the Satellite Heart.
Pond, like Tame Impala, swipe influences from across rock ‘n’ roll’s more cosmically-aligned history, scrub them up with fresh shine and color, and present them as new. Opener “Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide” — a Flaming Lips title, if ever there was one — opens like a lysergic take on Bo Diddley, with ethereal, reedy vocals reminiscent of MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden, but soon erupts into the most twisted Black Sabbath groove since Butthole Surfers’ “Sweat Loaf.”
There are blissed-out moments, too — the John Lennon-y “O Dharma,” for example, which glides along on an acoustic strum, and sublime multi-tracked harmonies. “Midnight Mass” seems to be closing out the record in a similarly languorous vein, when spasms of prog-metal drum-battery and dark riffs interrupt, and the track sails out into the ether on a propulsive locked groove, both elevating the mind and scarring it a little. This, then, is an aural hallucinogen for the experienced user.