“How can you smile? You must be sick or mad to stay on Earth. A dream of Escher, Kafka and all sevens sins of Perth?“. This questioning lyric sums up the currently disenchanted mindset of Nick Allbrook and his psychedelic rock chums Pond and how they view their beloved Australian city and the world beyond it on their 7th well thought out album The Weather.
Even before diving deep into the boldly honest, no-holding-back and occasionally tragedy-conceding hopelessness within Nick Allbrook’s thoughts, you can get a great trailer of the album’s concept of fraudulence and colonialism through economical exploitation by looking at the album sleeve and promos for lead singles ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet’ and the title track ‘The Weather’. They are compiled of purchasable stock image and videos showing generic contemporary situations and people acting way happier than they probably are.
Many of which act as advertisements on how to live the perfect life in the modern age and enlisting products your cash should be splashed out on. What Pond do rather cleverly is sneakily intersect the dreamy fake lifestyle with reality footage of war, social unrest, drug-abuse and climate change. This not only suggests a contrast between the two worlds but also – in the paraphrased opinion of Allbrook – demonstrates the lonely and comfortable island of Australia and its apathy towards the bigger world’s problems.
This is the pattern of the content within Pond’s intoxicating, intelligent yet also remarkably unpretentious album – a commentary on consumerism (from Tinder to Maybelline) and environmental ignorance from guys who admit they are just as scared, unheroic and confused as everyone else. A short yet important track ‘All I Want For Xmas (Is a Tascom 388)’ spoofs Mariah Carey’s song of a similar name and showcases this brilliant sarcasm and capitalistic satire.
The majority of tracks are bridged by radio reports and frequency noises associated with drivers changing channels on a car radio. The former gives weight to the subjects that they discuss. For example, ‘Colder Than Ice’ documents Perth’s increasing methamphetamine epidemic. Allbrook advertises it persuasively with the lines “Give it try. Look in your eyes. Rub it in your thighs” before audiences are swayed by a news report stating “hospital staff try to control patients high on amphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant”.
Using radio frequency noises to interlink tracks is also a very effective way of suggesting a fast paced attention-defect media world and is used best on the schizophrenic track ‘A/B’. It starts off as a typically eccentric and hallucinogenic Pond journey with plenty of groove and lyrics about the high life – from liposuction to caviar to businessmen Richard Branson – but then after a reporter talks about a discovered deceased individual, the mood changes dramatically to a sombre tale of the effects of drug usage. Viewers of David Lynch’s filmography will admire Pond’s same use of filth beyond the paradise narrative.
Pond don’t pretend the have the answers, in fact, the panic-stricken Nick Allbrook is very self-deprecating, self-torturous and desperate to hop onto Virgin Galatic and escape to the moon as quick as possible. His words may be incredibly morbid at times but this displays a transparent human nature that the aforementioned stock footage fails to portray.
Throughout the album he pleads “throw my carcass in a bin” (‘Edge of The World Part I’) and “bludgeon me with a two-by-four” (‘Zen Automation’) but on the epic opener ‘30000 Megatrons’ – a song released purposely a day after Donald Trump’s election victory- Nick Allbrook is at his most sarcastic and nihilistic and asks leaders to push the nuclear war button to destroy our already poisoned planet and claims he’s giving up on life: ‘I don’t get out of bed no more.‘
It’s one of a few tracks that features esoteric lines. On here there’s a reference to “Kyle or Jackie O” who are Australian radio hosts and other tracks mention Australian current affairs programme Lifeline and one of the richest and most hated public figures in the country, mining company president Gina Rinehart- whose company Hancock Prospecting has its headquarters in Pond’s homeland of Perth . This means that although The Weather reflects on universal issues, it is first and foremost concerned with the horrid state of its own surroundings in Australia.