While most NW bands had already signed their major-label deals and been shit out the bottom of the industry by '97, Pond was bringing up the rear. I didn't know what to think when I heard they had signed with WORK (a now-defunct division of Sony), but I was just happy as shit they were going to put out another record. And considering how disparate their first two albums had been, I didn't know what to expect from the third.
I would take no satisfaction from shitting on Pond for making a weak album to satisfy the industry types, and thankfully I don't have to. Rock Collection is definitely their most "accessible" album, but it's by no means radio-ready, even if Sony thought it might be. Though Brady's songs here do portend the more mainstream-ish stuff he would go on to do with Audio Learning Center, they're not a large enough jump from his songs on their previous record to feel out of place or forced. He continues to write huge hooks, and they work throughout this record.
Campbell continues to be in the zone on this one, too. "My Dog Is An Astronaut, Though" and "You're Not A Seed" are some of the best songs he ever did with the band. And "Rebury Me" keeps his obsession with abstract structures going. "Twins" and "One Day in the Future" are two of his more straightforward songs ever, though they're both decidedly different in tone. His depression clearly hadn't subsided by this point, and the album's closer, "Ugly," is both beautiful and cringe-worthy.
The songs are divided up pretty evenly between the two dudes this time around, with Brady feeling like a much more commanding presence on this record than he did on the previous one. There are tinges of him trying to sound buzzworthy on "Spokes" and "Golden," but thankfully he reins it in before it gets too corny. And those are fine songs - don't get me wrong. The sticker on the front of the CD says "Featuring 'Spokes' and 'Scoliosis.'" "Spokes" was the first (and only) single, but I always felt "Scoliosis" was the catchier song. Not that that matters.
Brady really gets over with "Greyhound" and "Filterless," two songs that seem to go together, and are only separated on the album by "Rebury Me," which fits in well with them, too. They're all towards the end, and they make for a strong ramp-up to the end of this record. Overall, Brady sounds invigorated on this album. Maybe he had high hopes for the major-label situation...
Of course, it ended up being the undoing of the band. This would be their last album together, making for a solid ending to their way-too-short career. Still, I'm glad they got a little taste of the big time, even if it was bitter. And this record really is a fine one. It's another completely unique effort from them, and it's crazy to think that this was only four years removed from their debut.
I've been listening to this record a lot lately, and it holds up well. Pond, we hardly knew ye.
But if nothing else, we've got this surreal video to remember them by: