When a band comes back after twenty years to release a new album I expect them to play it safe but there’s such a thing as taking it too far. White Stuff is fine, especially if you were into the band Back In The Day, but it sounds like a rewrite of older, better stuff with no attempt at trying to move forward at all.
Originally a side project of a few of the members of Tame Impala, Pond was designed to be an ever-changing collaborative project amongst the Perth neo-psychedelic scene. Their fourth album, the sublime Beard, Wives, Denim, became a success after Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker provided the rising tide. Man, It Feels Like Space Again was supposed to be the follow up to that breakthrough, but the band decided to record and release Hobo Rocket instead. With the band finally back on its original course, they’re now in the long shadow cast by their parent band’s monolithic Lonerism album. Man, It Feels Like Space Again doesn’t do a lot to break them out of that shadow, either. Too much of the album focuses on meandering trippy passages where fuzzed-out guitar leads intertwine with organ padding without bothering to do anything new with the trope. “Holding Out For You” does this the best, turning what might have originally been a rote piano ballad into blissed-out psych. “Zond” and “Outside Is The Right Side” strike out with some whalloping drums (the key ingredient that made me sit up and take notice on “Elegant Design” half a decade ago) and the closing title track is a shifting work of on-point psych-rock, but everything else fails to really capture my attention to any great effect. “Elvis’ Flaming Star” has a nice bass line but the vocals feel too drowned in studio trickery to connect at all. “Sitting Up On Our Crane” comes up with a great melody line but squanders its promise over six minutes. It’s a decent enough album, but it doesn’t match anything Tame Impala has been up to, and it doesn’t do much to stand on its own merit, either.