Album Review: Pond- 9
If the past year and a half has brought us anything music wise, it's been a wave of artists exploring themes of loneliness and the craving of human connection in a time when that's been lacking. "I need some human connection, I need some human touch, I've been behind these screens so long, I'm leading with my crotch." Pond makes us think about the human condition in craving human contact in the digital age, making a deliciously weird creation which is what we'd want from the psychedelic rock band. Listening to this track "Human Touch", the lyrics "I'm getting dizzy, dizzy dizzy and I need static" really resonate with the band's ninth album, appropriately titled 9.
On 9, similar to their previous album, Tasmania, we're seeing lyrical themes more suited for this politically charged world. On the track, "America's Cup," the band discovers themes of change occurring in their home of Western Australia since Perth hosted The America's Cup in the 80's, bringing in a huge wave of gentrification and corporations that have changed its identity."Before the America's Cup, it was sailors and junkies, pescatores and bikies. Before the America's Cup, never heard of methadone, never called the shelter home, never went to bed alone." Somehow, Pond makes a song with such grim subject matter sound so joyful with a playful bassline, electric guitars, and synth.
I like 9, but it feels a bit more jumbled compared to previous efforts, but I'm willing to give a pass on that to a band who's staple is creating music that thrives on the disorderly. In comparing the album to previous efforts, it does fall short of what I believe to be their best album, 2017's The Weather, which turned me from a casual listener to a true fan. (Look up the songs "Paint Me Silver" and "Sweep Me off My Feet" if you haven't heard them).
One thing that's really important for context here is Pond's history with Kevin Parker. Before Kevin went on to start Tame Impala, he played drums for Pond starting in 2009 while he was getting Tame off the ground. He later shifted gears to focus on Tame Impala while still producing for Pond before officially parting ways with them in 2020, making 9 their first album without a Kevin Parker production credit since their third album, 2010's Frond. It's obviously no secret I'm a Kevin Parker stan, so when you take him out of the equation, it's not hard for me to feel that something is missing. Kevin still remains great friends with the members of Pond though as they are Tame Impala's touring band to this day and might I add they absolutely kill it live.
9's closer "Toast" does close the album on that familiar note that I look for. It's melodic, emotional, so, so trippy, but a little more crisp than the other tracks. It has that laying in the grass on a warm, breezy day feel that juxtaposes with lyrics about toasting champagne and becoming literal toast due to the impending apocalypse. "Glasses chink, we applaud the setting sun, bloated with champagne, we assumed we'd see another one. If the water dries like the morning dew, life's too short to be away from you. Toast. I'm toast. Let's toast." This song just glows with something sad and beautiful, and feels appropriate for this chaotic time in an album with an overarching theme of chaos.