Photo by Duncan Wright
Today, Pond-frontman Nicholas Allbrook unveiled his fourth solo record, Manganese, via Spinning Top Records. The highly anticipated LP has been teased throughout 2023 with the release of singles like “Jackie,” “Round Round the Moon and All,” and “Commodore,” receiving praise and to celebrate the full release, Allbrook detailed shows in Brooklyn, N.Y. and L.A.
Manganese serves as a showcase of Allbrook’s mastery as a musician with a symphony in his back pocket, drawing inspiration from the rich history of Oz-rock in the ’80s and embracing the spirit of modern Australia. Written, recorded, and predominantly played by Allbrook in Fremantle, the album captures the essence of his prolific and eccentric presence in the global psychedelic scene. Allbrook’s deeply observant, caring, and passionate nature shines through the album’s themes and lyrics.
Growing up in Kimberley, WA—a region with a predominantly First Nations population—Allbrook reflects on the personal need for truth-telling and accountability that resonates throughout the offering. He acknowledges Australia’s collective moral injury stemming from the repression and denial of the country’s history, including white settlement, massacres, and other catastrophic events that have impacted the Indigenous people and the soul of the nation. Allbrook believes that progress is impossible without facing this truth head-on. He stated, “We all share it. It’s part of the repression. This really repressed, hard way of being. It’s like we’re trying to hide something.” However, throughout the project, Allbrook doesn’t avert his gaze.
The album opens with the title track, “Manganese,” featuring a howl the Pond frontman and guest vocals from Carla Geneve. Allbrook draws parallels between the metal itself, extracted on a massive industrial scale, and the song’s personal and environmental implications. Reflecting on a visit to Port Hedland—a town responsible for eight percent of Australia’s GDP through its port—Allbrook recounts the experience, emphasizing the surreal nature of the place with its enormous trains and trucks. During his visit, an elderly woman named Auntie Tina, speaking in her fourth language, pointed to a giant pile of manganese and claimed it as her own. Allbrook uses “Manganese” as a way to challenge Australia’s tendency to deny problems while they worsen. The song also pays tribute to the young individuals from various parts of the world who sacrifice their souls for such projects in places like Port Hedland.
Co-produced by Allbrook and HOKO (Nathaniel Hoho), Manganese comprises nine tracks that pulsate with life, despite the themes of death, despair, and destruction that underlie them. Allbrook’s kaleidoscopic musical imagination shines through each song, creating a mosaic of sounds that captivate listeners. From the eclectic mix on “Babbel” to the synth-jam goodness of “Mazda” and the lively stomp of “Jackie,” the album showcases Allbrook’s boundless creativity and his ability to reach his full potential.
However, it is the more poignant tracks, such as “Vale the Chord” and “The Night Before You Flew,” that truly resonate, offering intimate and vulnerable moments. Allbrook emphasizes the importance of vulnerability and honesty, stating, “That’s almost the only important thing, that sense of vulnerability and honesty. That’s also what the album is, essentially: dredging the depths of all the really hard things instead of doing a personal therapy session over a year!”
Allbrook is set to showcase his catharsis at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on July 6 and Club Teegee in L.A. on July 8. Listen to Manganese below.
5. The Endless Jetty
6. Vale the Chord
8. Round Round the Moon and All
9. The Night Before You Flew