Bardo Pond Set and Setting

While their last two records have been more concerned with sonic crunch than actual songwriting, this time around it seems that Bardo Pond has got it all right. Basing song structures in heavy blues riffs (the natural beginning to the psychedelic movement anyway), the band moves away from confusing swirls of 1996’s Lapsed and streamlines their direction into more direct, harder-hitting songs. Lead singer Isobel is in fine vocal form throughout, warbling her way through the tracks in grand fashion, although it must be noted there is a definite lack of audible flute this time around. In its place harmonica can be heard drifting in and out of the mix in both “This Time (So Fucked)” and “Cross Current.” Which, does make more sense with the more blues-driven direction the band has adopted. Just don’t expect them to be touring with Fat Possum bands anytime soon — for my money, they’re still the closest thing left to real stoner rock since Sleep split up. (Matador)