One of the great ironies of psychedelia, especially modern psychedelia, is that despite all the implications of mind expansion and far-out-ed-ness, the tropes of the genre are actually fairly limited. Take some wavy vocals, a fuck-ton of fuzz, and a hefty “dose” of delay and you’ve got an instant dorm room classic. That formula usually works best when it’s plugged into a more rigid structure, like that of a pop song, forcing its flights of fancy to remain tethered to some more focused center. But more often than not, the formula doesn’t work, and the resultant music can tend to come across as not just boring and meandering, but amateurish.
Pond’s latest, Hobo Rocket, finds itself floating amongst the space whales somewhere between those two extremes, a position which is not only disappointing but fairly surprising. On last year’s Beard, Wives, Denim, the Aussie collective (which features several members of Tame Impala) managed to reign in some of the more experimental facets of their previous efforts and came away with a solid gem of a pop record. Make no mistake: These tracks were still as sticky with resin as anything Pond had ever done. But the freakouts weren’t just tasteful; they served as a satisfying seasoning to the songs…which is precisely where Hobo Rocket loses its way.