Beard, Wives, Denim
13 Track, LP (2012, Modular)
A sunbaked sprawl that’s part classic-rock homage and part chortling piss-take, Pond’s fourth album sees the Tame Impala sister band chase dank psych jams amid various genre diversions. Conceived on a WA farm in April 2010 and then completed while Tame Impala toured America half a year later, Beard, Wives, Denim captures an amiable bunch of kids stumbling into many musicians’ rock ‘n’ roll dream come true.
These tunes are carefree and druggy – the liner notes repeatedly describe a member having “a powerful experience” by way of inspiration – and waver like mirages of fuzzy nostalgia. They often can’t (or won’t) retain their shape for their duration, drifting happily elsewhere on the slightest whim. Nick Allbrook, Joseph Ryan and Jay Watson all contribute to songwriting, while Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker drums throughout and The Silents’ Jamie Terry juggles roles on half the tracks.
Beard, Wives, Denim is every bit as nebulous as Pond’s infinite configurations. Opener ‘Fantastic Explosion of Time’ is a riotous glam lark giving way to the burbling cosmic psych of ‘When It Explodes’, only for a funk undercurrent to bubble over on ‘Elegant Design’ and later ‘Moth Wings’. ‘Eye Pattern Blindness’ and ‘Sorry I Was Under the Sky’ are big jams that don’t really bother about being songs, while ‘Dig Brother’ is noticeably Beatles-ish and ‘Allergies’ straighter than most.
The crusty, organ-burnished ‘Sun and Sea and You’ descends into handclaps and harmonies before rocking thoroughly out, and ‘Leisure Party’ cuts the band’s fondness for lugubrious effects with Parker’s engaging drumming. The porch-recorded folk shambles of closer ‘Moreno’s Blend’ offers a rare detour from Pond’s lurching headiness, while the especially flighty standout ‘You Broke My Cool’ goes from a sinister opening to a more song-y body to a bristling implosion at the end.
This isn’t the gravest of bands we’re talking about, and Beard, Wives, Denim is decidedly a low-stakes, zero-stress sampler of styles and approaches. It may find much of its richness in music of the past, but it’s more rewarding to just take it all in than to play name-the-influence.
by Doug Wallen