Tame Impala – Currents Review

With one the most hotly anticipated albums of the year, Tame Impala have given us a generous serving of their third studio album Currents since the lead single ‘Let It Happen’ emerged online several months ago. Since then we’ve had three more that varied back to the blocky fuzz of their previous album as opposed to the dance driven album that’s been promised and replicated with ‘Let It Happen’. Kevin Parker has recently been speaking of making the music “He’s always wanted to do” and previously not following that up in order to keep Tame Impala with the realms of psych-rock, but with him now claiming that “boundaries are there to be broken” then you can only get excited by the promise of the album. The pivotal point here is that this is the first album delivered by the Perth quintet in the face of much attention and anticipation so have the laid back band cracked under the pressure? Have they been able to better their standards yet again?

‘Let it Happen’ is an spacious and rolling piece of neo-psychedelic dance music at nearly eight minutes long. It opens with flashing and wiry synths set above whirring electronica beneath it and this breathes in and out in its intensity to bring the focus to Kevin Parker’s isolated and wonderfully graceful vocals. As the track goes on the synths only increase in their pitch as they start to jam and repeat in a process that bridges the progression to the warped organ-like instrumental and the distorted percussion underneath it and back into the main tune. Parker’s whirring vocals lead into the brief distorted guitar parts which only enhance the current subtle tones of the song. It’s a wonderful track with the ability to be expansive and vast, immediate and catchy and wonderfully melodic too. Quite possibly the song of the year that’s the epitome of Parker’s aforementioned aims.  ‘Cause I’m a Man’ moves into slightly more familiar territory. It still embraces the fluid and smooth expanses that graced the first single, with chiming synths and Parkers sweeping and fading falsetto. These fluid soundscapes are tied around a gently meandering bass-line and a basic back beat. It is another track that doesn’t particularly focus on the guitar as a rhythm section tool as they have done, but instead they utilised them to add dimension to the chorus and carry the melody in a rough and typically distorted fashion. With this in mind, the single is more familiar than ‘Let it Happen’ with it’s laid back and hazy style, yet still maintains the altered instrumental focus that has so far been stressed with these two tracks.

With ‘Eventually’ they again feature vibrant electronica, more familiar fuzzy tones backed up with some excellent vocals by Kevin Parker with his smooth and hazy falsettos that filter through the track’s instrumentation. Here they demonstrate a subtlety and a fragility to their music. It has a simple beat and a wiry synth meandering around it which sets up the song for some well placed surges of distorted guitar to only emphasise the more considered tones as more washed out electronica flows over you. This culminates in a track that see’s it’s soundscapes blossom throughout the track instead of firing past you. A more considered approach. ‘Disciples’ sees their trademark bending guitar sound filling the sound space and being accentuated with warping and twisting synth drones and through this cuts Parker’s faded falsetto. The track shifts in and out of audible focus and this only heightens the hooks and the easy rhythm of the track which fades out before two minutes. ‘The Less I Know The Better’ offers up some funk injected psychedelia with the twisting bass line moving out and in to only heighten the groove of the track. This is paired wonderfully with whirring melodies that extend across the instrumentation with the melodies peaking with chiming, distorted synths. The song goes on to take the features of that of a blissful aged pop song before fading out in that fashion. A genre fusing track. ‘Past Life’ features a heavily pitch-shifted spoken verse before breaking and meandering into the utterly luscious monotone blast of noise from the heavily distorted and warped unison of vocals and instrumentation. Somehow this tracks dares to reach further into the depths of usable space and expansion. ‘Reality in Motion’ offers up a similar sweeps in a more lighter and direct fashion around a pop structure, but with heavily warped fringes.

‘Love Paranoia’ features a steady and heavy beat and the vocals directing the melodies and followed by the light instrumentation which gradually adds small elements such as a bass to it’s sound. The bass is charged and prominent in ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ as it rolls and tumbles it’s way in forming the song’s backbone and from this the electronica and sharp lead guitars fire out from it in a wave of sound rode upon by Parker’s high pitched harmonies. The bass sound is briefly sacrificed for a high pitched interlude before slowly flowing back into the track to conclude it. Tracks like ‘The Moment introduce those elements of a prominent bass line with chiming electronica and vocals feeding from it in an enhanced pop based structure as the song breaks down and rebuilds it’s soundscapes with wiry and spiralling electronica. ‘Yes I’m Changing’ puts these aspects into practice in a more winding and spaced out environment resembling that of 80’s pop ballad seen through the eyes of Tame Impala. The album is graceful and effortless in standing out from previous Tame Impala efforts as it sets itself apart in terms of style and production in ways that were only hinted at with Innerspeaker and Lonerism. The excellent phasing and re-envisaged soundscapes and song structures can be appreciated in multitude of ways and Parker breaks down the boundaries of the phased and heavily distorted production that Ariel Pink and Julian Casablancas couldn’t quite master. Some aspects of Random Access Memories by Daft Punk weren’t even matching Parker’s ability in production to pull a song apart and reconfigure it in a rich and all encompassing way. Whilst it may not be full of fuzzy guitars, it’s gained a hell of a lot more as Tame Impala advance.

Tame Impala – Currents = 10/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Tame Impala – Let It Happen

Tame Impala are back if you haven’t noticed. Kevin Parker’s conveyers of sweeping and expansive waves of neo-psychedelia have produced a debut album in Innerspeaker 2010 that most bands would dream of and entered the realms of the sublime with Lonerism in 2012. Now with their new track ‘Let it Happen’ from their upcoming third album, the Perth collective has also announced a plethora of tour dates chiefly across North America from April to September. ‘Let it Happen’ is an expensive piece of neo-psychedelic dance music at nearly eight minutes long. It opens with flashing and wiry synths set above whirring electronica beneath it and this breathes in and out in its intensity to bring the focus to Kevin Parker’s isolated and wonderfully graceful vocals. As the track goes on the synths only increase in their pitch as they start to jam and repeat in a process that bridges the progression to the warped organ-like instrumental and the distorted percussion underneath it and back into the main tune. Parker’s whirring vocals, lead into the brief distorted guitar parts which only enhance the current subtle tones of the song. It’s a wonderful track with the ability to be expansive and vast, immediate and catchy and wonderfully melodic too. Instead of staying in their comfort zone, they have explored and reimagined their sound again. It’s asking a lot, but Tame Impala responded with the smooth effortlessness that is ‘Let It Happen’

Sunday Suggestion – Tame Impala – Solitude Is Bliss

A lot of people fell in love with Tame Impala with Lonerism last year with the refined use of distortion and reverb along with excellent use of space and soundscapes. It was a inconceivable piece of neo-psychedelica and for me the best album of 2012. It’s no wonder that many have jumped on board now. However, for me it was the Innerspeaker album that really got me excited about Tame Impala back in 2010. The sound was a little cleaner and there was less emphasis on the waves of sound from Lonerism. Elements were more distinguishable and the structure more apparent. You could still appreciate the small bursts of modulated sounds and the echo of Kevin Parkers vocal. ‘Solitude Is Bliss’ is evocative of what is a skilful debut album from them. The song broken up and structured around the intervals from the distorted rhythm guitar that fades in with the crashing cymbals. The bass has an excellent tuneful quality about it that drives through the verses and even has a melodic feel to it. Kevin’s vocals are stretched across all the other elements so effortlessly. The slight wind down in the music allows for a great kick back into the chorus. The song churns and elbows it’s way around to a fantastic conclusion while maintaining the fundamentals of rhythm and melody.

http://youtu.be/vxvf7gR4-2M

Image from en.wikipedia.org