Year of release: 2017
The seventh album from Australian psych-prog rockers Pond may sound like a left turn upon first listen, but the fact that Tame Impala's Kevin Parker is on hand as producer places everything in context. While Parker's move away from 60/70's psych and into the realm of warped 80's synth-pop felt a bit contrived throughout his last effort Currents, Pond manage the shift from proto-punk psych and onto the dance floor with relative ease. The Weather may be less atonal and kooky than 2015's Man It Feels Like Space Again, but there's still plenty of proggy detours and bong-ripped instrumentation on hand to satisfy longtime fans; coming off like The Flaming Lips shaking hips with Prince while peaking on mushrooms.
Those hoping for the manic garage rock-inflected sprawl of past albums may be somewhat miffed by Pond's decision to slow down the tempo, increase the swirling synths, lay down the disco-glam grooves and indulge in funky basslines, but singer Nick Allbrook’s high-pitched vocals are a surprisingly perfect fit for Parker's layered production. There's Roxy Music-esque glam ("Zen Automaton"), chillwave-adjacent ballads ("Paint Me Silver"), ambitious prog opuses ("Edge of the World Pt. 2") and perhaps best of all, Ariel Pink-sounding 80's spaced out funk ("Colder than Ice").
Throughout, there's a sense that Pond may have bitten off more than they can chew, with arena-sized choruses and cosmic climaxes threatening to drown the record in self-indulgence, but the band's dark sense of humor and fondness for kitsch offset such criticisms. For instance, opener "3000 Megatons" could be read as a bleak mantra for our politically divisive age, with Albrook crooning I look out at the mirror/Look out at the world/30,000 megatons is just what we deserve in a robotic falsetto over arpeggiated synths. However, the song is more humorous than ominous; as if the push of a button will solve all humanity's problems in an apocalyptic mushroom cloud. As an album, The Weather straddles the awe-inspiring and the ludicrous with a confidence that suggests Pond may one day make a modern psych classic. For now, though, we can simply settle for geeky Australian dance parties with the occasional stoned gaze.