Smooth synthesizers and drum machines creep through your eardrums like the first sip of water in the morning. “It’s spring and the cherry blossoms sprout,” coos Nick Allbrook at the onset of melody, and you get the feeling that the newest Pond record is going to be their best. Just then a glam boom-clap rhythm enters and Allbrook starts in with major swagger: “Jimmy grabs a beer and we wash our hands in the creek/ talk is cheap!” It’s the kind of song you’d hear at a party - the people closest to the speakers can’t help but dance, and even those furthest away feel a radiating positivity.

This is ‘Daisy,’ the first track and single off Pond’s Tasmania, which is their most sure-handed set of recordings in ten years of consistent output. Sadly, the track has only been available during the coldest months of the year where parties are few and far between. Regardless, ‘Daisy’ works wonders because of its ability to make you want to be surrounded by friends. If we’ve learned anything from James Murphy, it’s that longing and dancing are not mutually exclusive.

Pond do however lack one crucial ingredient to the enjoyment-as-a-reminder-of-your-friends formula: There aren’t enough hooks. It’s fun to sing along to ‘Daisy’ because many of the lyrics stick in your head. However, choruses like “Honey what’s wrong/ I said babe what’s right?” off ‘The Boys Are Killing Me’ are too ham-fisted to stick. The opposite problem occurs on ‘Burnt Out Star’ where Allbrook sings laboriously about the year 1917 for an overlong outro. The band is having a cathartic moment but the rest of us are left scratching our heads.

Much of Tasmania is still a lot of fun, but Pond manage to skip a host of intermediate descriptors and blur the line between fun and boring. This record is innovative in the sense that you’ve never heard Pond do it before, but dull because you’ve heard many of their contemporaries do it dozens of times. The retro sound they employ is well-established in modern music culture. Pond’s native Australia is already brimming with artists that know how to mix the old and the new. Alex Cameron’s vision of a cheesy 80s Los Angeles is so clear cut that you can’t take your ears off him, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have never had to try to be strange because Nuggets-era psychedelia already runs through their veins as well as their guitar amps. Pond are more like the last ten years of Americans The Flaming Lips - there’s a distinct precedent for being strange, but it seems like they’re embracing psychedelia on purpose.

Tasmania still has merit. ‘Sixteen Days’ is the ideal follow-up to ‘Daisy’, with rich waves of bass fuzz and delayed keystrokes, and the title track stands apart with a vocal performance that would make Prince turn his head. Still, the hooks feel literally and thematically absent. There are repeated phrases between ‘Tasmania’ and ‘Burnt Out Star’, but multiple listens don’t get you any closer to one central idea, with the latter acting as more of an obligatory mid-album jam instead of a distinct statement.

‘Shame’ on the other hand captures a psych-electro sound that’s strange, catchy, and emotional all without trying. When the synths match Allbrook’s singing on the choruses, there’s a real poignancy in the prose: “I don’t wanna hate Marseille just because of this one day/ so hurry up and rain/ complete my day.” The following verse sees a teary-eyed Allbrook apologizing to someone with a sincerity that couldn’t possibly be faked.

Perhaps it’s the minimalistic production that makes ‘Shame’ stand out. Perhaps it’s the forced intensity on closer ‘Doctor’s In’ that makes it fall flat. Perhaps Kevin Parker’s steady production hand is too omnipresent. One thing that’s for sure is that Pond continue to give things the old college try, and Tasmania is never grating or insulting. The problem is that they don’t go far enough in one particular artistic direction to make it more memorable than their last few records. The band still show the glimmer of potential they’ve always carried, and it’s nice to know that consistency is possible with the band. ‘Doctor’s In' ends with an abrupt fadeout, and your memory of Tasmania can depart at a similarly unsatisfying rate.