The wonderful thing about music is that every once in a while, the right album shows up at the right time and lets you push all the bullshit in your life to the periphery. It's as if sometimes the universe says, "Dude, we know you're having a shitty day. You should listen to this. It'll make it all better." Beard, Wives, Denim, the new album by Australian psych outfit Pond, was exactly that record. After a night spent as a music industry day-laborer, hawking merch for a former boy-band member clearly on the downward spiral to utter irrelevance, dealing with the exact same people who made my life a living hell in high school and basically having my soul crushed by terrible pop for a small stipend, I needed a little rock 'n' roll in my life. When I clicked the link to preview Beard, I didn't realize I was going to be getting a whole lot of rock 'n' roll.
Like, so much rock 'n' roll that I was hooked before Pond even got to the bridge of their lead-off track, "Fantastic Explosion of Time." So much rock 'n' roll, in fact, that I was badgering their publicist about tour dates before the album hit the halfway mark, and by the time Beard was over, I had already set the gears in motion for their in-store appearance at Grimey's. There was no way in hell I was going to let this band drive from Little Rock to Philladelphia without playing Music City. They had a day off! They had to drive right by us! They're from Australia and manage to evoke Blue Cheer and the frickin' Zombies! If I had to build a night club myself just to see them play, I would have.
There's a lot of music that moves me on an emotional level, but there isn't a lot of music that moves me to action, shakes off the complacency and kicks my brain into overdrive. Beard, Wives, Denim, however, definitely lit a fire under my ass. It's the sort of record that, upon first listen, you have to immediately tell all your friends about. Recorded in an old farmhouse in the Australian countryside by the band and a gang of friends, songs like the feedback-and-flute-heavy "You Broke My Cool" and the dark, echo-drenched "Sun and Sea and You" are communal celebrations — collective expressions of the cosmic vibes that pass through each of us, and not the sort of music that's supposed to be kept to one's self. This is a record that inspires sharing, even if that sharing is just singing along a little too loudly with "Moth Wings" or "Sorry I Was Under the Sky" while you're riding the bus. (Incidentally, my warbly falsetto-mumble-screech was probably the least weird thing being uttered on the No. 12 that afternoon. Stay strange, Nolensville Road. Never, ever change.)
And that inspiration, that need to share, is why I'm writing this for you now. I'm not writing this as the guy who, well, writes to keep the lights on, but as an honest-to-God fan — a person so bowled over by this record that he just can't keep his damn mouth shut. I write this as a person whose faith in music was restored by just a few bars of Beard, Wives, Denim — a person who was seriously contemplating throwing in the towel and giving up on the only life I've ever known, because spending a night listening to former teen idols flub their way through groan-worthy "rock" tunes will do that to you. But I'm glad I didn't throw in that towel, because sometimes, when you need it most, the right album finds you at exactly the right time.
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