Album Review: Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again

I’ve spent the last few days trying to decipher Man It FeelsLike Space Again, the brand new record from Australian psych-lords Pond. However many times I listened to this 9-song album, all I could think of saying was that the album is “what drugs sound like, on drugs”. It has a super spaced-out, almost hypnotic feel to it. Read on for a full album review.

Album opener Waiting Around for Grace is, at first, all lovey as frontman Nick Allbrook confesses his feelings for (we assume) Grace. “Baby, when I looked at you” he starts before his vocals become slightly more indecipherable save for the odd word such as “power” or “soul”. A cacophony of synths are eventually drowned out after a minute and replaced by fuzzy guitars and a more straightforward structure. It has a very 70s glam feel to it, something which perfectly suits its accompanying album artwork. Its chorus is extremely hypnotic, helping make Waiting Around for Grace everything an album opener should be – brooding, upbeat and powerful. The latter half of the song sees Allbrook’s borderline-absurd vocals be replaced by a long-winded synth solo reminiscent of Tame Impala’s Elephant. As we await the chorus one more time, synthesizers take the reign in order for the track to end emphatically. Elvis’ Flaming Star begins with fuzzy feedback before a danceable drum and bass
combination keeps in time with plucked guitars and Allbrook’s wailed, effects-laden vocals. The bass is most prominence throughout, as the accompanying drums add a handclap effect. The track briefly loses its dance-y feel halfway through as we enter an ethereal otherworldly realm of space, before Allbrook and co. regain consciousness and let us dance further. Holding Out For You’s buzzing synth line and spaced-out acoustic guitar accompany a distorted-yet-catchy guitar melody on the album’s first real ballad of sorts. The song swirls beautifully in and out of our ears as the listener loses themselves in musical bliss. Allbrook isn’t responsible for all this wondrous music though, with fellow past/present Tame Impala touring members Jay Watson, Joseph Orion and Jamie Terry joining him. The song doesn’t change structure much throughout, with a fuzzy guitar solo making way for an outro consisting of Allbrook’s anthemic vocals.

Massive track Zond, an early contender for song of the year, is like a journey through space as a fuzzy riff and upbeat pace take the listener on a journey. It makes you want to dance, it makes you want to laugh, it makes you want to cry, all at the same time. Booming drums post-chorus join a whole mixture of weird noises as we’re immediately picked up and chucked back onto the fast-moving zondwagon. Yes, that is now a word. “Cross my heart”, sings Allbrook ahead of a euphoric outro which literally screams “SPACE! WE’RE IN SPACE!” It’s just crazy. The slower Heroic Shart opts for a more lovelorn lyrical approach as Allbrook sings, “Baby, I didn’t ask for your sympathy” ahead of a campfire outro which was made to be sung along to. “Ooh, set me free” wails the Australian before the track comes to a noise-filled ending. Sitting Up On Our Crane’s radio feedback intro and electronic drums show us once again how Allbrook is probably sitting somewhere higher than just a crane. “I feel like I’m falling down” he sings on the most Tame Impala-sounding track on the album, something mainly down to its stripped back elements. The chorus is another big, hands-in-the-air one, repeated furthermore throughout the song’s progression. It doesn’t change much throughout its 6-minutes, but that doesn’t take away from its sheer beauty.

Outside is the Right Side goes for more radio feedback as we’re briefly led to believe it’s gonna be a disco banger. What we’re initially led to believe eventually rings true as we enter another 1970s dancefloor by way of fuzzy wah-wah guitars and a raunchy rhythm. Its outro sees a cocksure Allbrook half-rap over some woozy guitars as the song slowly dies out, buries itself and subsequently rises back from the dead to make sure it’s high enough. Penultimate track Medicine Hat is led by an acoustic guitar and Allbrook’s proclamation of walking around in circles and losing his sense of direction. For almost 90 seconds we’re subjected to Allbrook and his guitar, before his band slowly join in and bring the song to a very Beatles-esque ending. Epic synths enter the frame, one of them sounding suspiciously like Allbrook’s voice being fed through a multitude of effects boxes. The album comes to an end on Man It Feels Like Space Again, the 8-minute long title track. “We can talk by the river, we can walk right into the sea” sings Allbrook quietly as we await some kind of impending chaos. We don’t necessarily get what that, though, rather hearing bombastic synths yet again accompany effects-laden vocals. It’s a long song, which is mainly due to the fact that it feels and sounds like more than one song compacted into 8 (in this case) short minutes. As we’ve come to expect from Pond (or Tame Impala for that matter), the song ends on an extremely hypnotic, psychedelic note as a multitude of instruments collide with one another to bring the album to a noisy ending.

One thing we can definitely be sure of, is that Pond are a unique band whose sound will seldom be replicated by others. Allbrook is a master of his craft, with every song on the album standing out in one way another. Whether it be the energy we feel in Zond, or the euphoria in Waiting Around for Grace, Man It Feels Like Space Again will be one of the best records of the year.