Album Review: Nicholas Allbrook – Walrus (2015 EP)

The resurgence of psychedelic rock in recent years has resulted in a spectrum of works, ranging from the successful, to the catchy, to the downright forgettable. Thankfully, Nick Allbrook of Pond (and formerly, Tame Impala) has managed to fall onto the better side of that spectrum with his new EP, Walrus.

The five tracks on the record demand the listener’s attention. There are quieter moments, too, but those always provide a false sense of security, as exploding synths and rhythms await the listener at every corner. For opening track “Goode (when we were awake)”, Allbrook has managed to craft a tune as impenetrable as its title: summery but intergalactic, futuristic yet melancholic. The distorted vocals even see Allbrook referencing beat poetry – or did he say deadbeat poetry? – at one point. The distinction doesn’t really matter, as one gets the sense that coherent vocals weren’t intended as a selling point. As with Allbrook’s previous work, his solo project is decidedly anarchic.

“Blanket 3072”, the first single from the EP, further emphasises this sense of freedom. On it, Allbrook’s raspy whispers are bound to make listeners curious – however uncomfortable that curiosity may be. He also plays around with voices on “Chelsea”, which begins with the kind of chattering background noise one might find in a restaurant. Of course, the normality doesn’t last too long and the song veers into video game territory before a crackly, broken-television-static sound takes over. Although one gets the sense that Allbrook’s experimentalism might be for the sake of experimentalism itself, it’s difficult to not to enjoy, as it seems to stem from a genuine admiration for music.

The mood carries on through the later part of the record, albeit in a slightly more relaxed manner. Penultimate track “Noyfeck” is road-trip-soundtrack worthy and EP closer “Salvo or Stop the Goats (a thinly veiled blah blah)” is the most radio-friendly of the five songs. That being said, it’s still difficult to imagine that song playing alongside… well, anything. But that’s the modus operandi of Nicholas Allbrook: he’s an original. And on Walrus, he’s unapologetic.

Review Score: 7.2 out of 10.

Walrus is out now.

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