There’s a reason that nearly every record in Bardo Pond’s discography is named after (or in relation to) some sort of hallucinogen — to be frank, Bardo Pond is trippy, maaan. The long-running Philadelphia psych-rock group has just dropped a self-titled record some 20-plus records into its career, attempting to distill its sound elements (mostly Sonic Youth-esque guitar feedback and desolate space-folk) into a singular psychedelic statement. Bardo Pond opens strongly with two memorable songs that boast huge-sounding noise and stoner-rock guitars, but this self-titled trip quickly turns bad.
Bardo Pond stumbles in the 30-minute centrepiece of “Undone” and “Cracker Wrist” — the former is a substandard psych jam that runs over 20 minutes without really going anywhere, while “Cracker Wrist” is just utterly terrible. Over a tepid post-rock foundation, vocalist Isobel Sollenberger’s painfully overdramatic singing knocks the group completely off course — if anyone ever wondered what Evanescence would sound like with acid rock guitars, “Cracker Wrist” will unfortunately provide the answer. If the point of these tracks was to impress teenage mall-dwellers who continually misuse the term “epic,” well, mission accomplished. “Wayne’s Tune” closes the album on a stronger note, but after the embarrassment of the album’s half-hour centrepiece, it’s difficult to really care.