Considering Australian band Pond have supported MGMT, and is comprised of the rhythm section from Tame Impala, you kind of already know what Pond will sound like without ever having listened to them. The psychedelic elements that make Tame Impala so popular remain present, but what Pond add to proceedings is a homemade album that sounds as fun to make as it is to listen to, and an almighty glam rock stomp asserting itself throughout the record.
Beard, Wives, Denim doesn't take itself too seriously, which in this case is a definite positive. The album is smattered with background mutterings between tracks, fuzzy recordings and minor imperfections, but instead of sounding too messy it comes across as a garage-rock project that was actually enjoyable to make and not painstakingly forced. 'Fantastic Explosion of Time' kicks the album off, well… explosively. It's got squealing guitar riffs and acts as the biggest oddball anthem of the album, sounding like a bizarre hybrid of David Bowie and The White Stripes. Following the explosion theme afterwards is 'When It Explodes', quite a bare track with muffled vocals and with slightly more of a beach vibe to it. The track echoes Tame Impala's debut Innerspeaker more than most on the record, with an added Deerhunter like twist to it with the long played out atmospherics of the guitars.
Undoubtedly one of the album's most memorable tracks is 'Elegant Design'. It sounds a hell of a lot like MGMT vocally and melodically but a lack of originality with Pond isn't really a valid criticism, as the tunes far supersede any notions of plagiarism. The track's lyrics massively reflect the carefree attitude towards the music, “mountains crash into the sea and it doesn't seem to worry me” is sung with particularly infectious pizazz, this sort of energy making it pretty difficult to dislike Pond.
There is experimentation on the record too. 'Moth Wings' has Hendrix style fast guitar psyche-outs and a Black Keys-esque blues-rock melody, creating equally delighting and impressive results. While 'Sun and Sea and You' is underpinned by a repetitive bosa nova style line, which is manifested into experimental brilliance rather than overwhelming pretentiousness. Unfortunately, the freeform nature of the album doesn't always work, predominantly towards the latter half of the record. 'Leisure Pony' and 'Mystery' seem to get lost in themselves, chasing their own tails, and 'Allergies' is another MGMT indebted song which plods along a little bit too unremarkably.
It's hard to ignore the talent behind Pond as there are a lot of great ideas present on the record and the freeform process behind it surely helped these quirks to flourish. It's perhaps not quite as mesmerising as Tame Impala, but it's got some undeniably good tracks that can stick in the listener's head with enough plays. Many of the tracks that do stand out are the fast-paced, and noticeably live recorded ones. This leads me to think that Beard, Wives, Denim may flourish more live than on record. But by all means, find that out for yourself.