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The Practice of Joy Before Death

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Album Review

Pond formed in the Pacific Northwest in 1992 and promptly signed to Sub Pop, so the band had plenty of ties to the grunge explosion of the early '90s. And sure enough, the group's second album contains the requisite guitar fuzz to mark it as a grunge record. Beneath the distortion, though, there are some key differences between The Practice of Joy Before Death and other '90s Seattle guitar rock albums. The lyrics, for example, are often understated and perceptive, with little self-important sloganeering to be found; guitarist Charlie Campbell and bassist Chris Brady paid more attention to lyrical detail than most of their Pacific Northwestern peers. For example, Campbell spends one song worrying about whether or not a snake can cross a road without being run over. Also, unlike, say, Pearl Jam, Pond's slippery, wiry guitars owe more to post-punk than to Neil Young or Led Zeppelin. Finally, the simple recording (much of the album was cut on an eight-track) makes the album more intimate than many of the big-budget grunge albums of the time. The less-is-more production and incisive songwriting make The Practice of Joy Before Death the best of Pond's three albums.

Biography

Formed: 1991 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

High school buddies Chris Brady and Charlie Campbell relocated from their hometown of Juneau, AK, to Portland, OR, in 1989. Two years later, they recruited drummer Dave Triebwasser (ex-Thrillhammer) and formed Pond. They were quickly signed to Sub Pop, and their eponymous 1993 debut album fit nicely into the Pacific Northwest grunge movement that was dominating popular music. But with their short hair and earnest songs, Pond never quite fit into the grunge scene and they struggled to gain notoriety...
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The Practice of Joy Before Death, Pond
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