Pond - Beards, Wives, Denim - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Pond - Beards, Wives, Denim

by Miz DeShannon Rating:9 Release Date:2012-03-05

From the timeless mystical trance manderings of Tame Impala came spin-off band Pond, now on their fourth album Beards, Wives, Denim, another re-positioning of their sound into mostly short, sharp nuggets of fuzzy, wailing goodness. They've got a slightly shambolic, rough-around-the-edges garage psych sound put out by Jennifer Gentle and Thee Oh Sees, with bits of The Band, Kelley Stoltz and a handful of other retro acts thrown in.

Tracks like 'Fantastic Explosion of Time' and 'Elegant Design' are full of strumming, fuzzy bass and dirgy riffs over strange and slightly screechy, but not overwhelming, vocals. There are sing-along tracks, ethereal melodic middle-eighths, psych-out jams and sexy basslines ('Sorry I Was Under the Sky'), with overlaid vocals throughout and wah-wah guitar ('Moth Wings') scattered across verses. The production from Dave Fridmann shows off every sound and every tweak that you'd hear from the band live. There's a feel of the analogue 70s rock recordings to it, but with 21st century clarity. Think Pop Levi on tracks like 'Dig Brother' and 'Leisure Pony'. This is another crazy mix-up album of retro-pop-jamming a la The Beach Boys.

'Eye Pattern Blindness' just hands out the goosebumps by the bucketload, with panning guitars, feedback wails, a head-nodding guitar melody and some unusual organ sounds which you usually hear in the suspense-building intros of a 60s Italian private investigator film or The Avengers. It's a little virtuosic in the delicate mix of peaks and troughs, and sounds and harmonies, and riffs and dreaminess. It's retro but not retro, it's predictable but not predictable.

Despite the band thinking they tried too hard, there's something wonderfully exciting about this album; even the semi-acoustic finish at the end is finely done, another bit of randomness akin to the genre-bending and time signatures woven throughout. Beards, Wives, Denim is a tapestry of expriences, a reflection of all sorts of memories and personalities.

Cited as being "an audio diary of ten friends' strange, terrible and blissful time in the country trying in vain to be a wholesome family band", Beards, Wives & Denim sits quite comfortably as nostalgic, distorted, fun and lo-fi. This is obviously what happens when you become the cliché the band worked so hard to be; living in tents in the outback, avoiding kangaroos and recording in a small equipment-filled cottage. Very Captain Beefheart. Although maybe without actually locking everyone up.

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