Boy, oh boy. Have I encountered a paradox with this new album. There are parts of it I love, and parts of it a loath to such an extent it gives me a migraine to replay them.
I have always enjoyed Tame Impala. Their debut tracks, such as Glass Half Full of Wine and Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind? for example, are without a shadow of a doubt truly great examples of the band’s connection to psychedelic rock. The full bodied guitar riffs, the 70’s influence the band held in such high esteem didn’t seem like it was being copied. It was being re-invented and created with fresh eyes and fingers.
Kevin Parker has sure as hell kept me on my toes with this new album, Lonerism. Masterfully being able to multi-task like a magician, Parker managed to write, perform, produce and record the album, almost by himself. Traveling the world with the capabilities to record literally wherever he was – be it in his apartment in Paris, on a flight to London or back in his hometown of Perth, Parker in recorded format, is quite literally, a lone cowboy. Perhaps that is a nod to the album’s title and Parker’s sense of self when conjuring the music for his albums. Who knows. Yet, this album does resonate with a certain sagacity of self-reflection, inward visions and trippy motifs. I blame the synthesizers. I am aware that Parker spoke of an affinity with creating pop music, with enough cheese to ward off an overabundance of lactose intolerant sufferers, yet the early tracks on this album left me empty. I was searching for those heady, deeply ingrained and downright wonderful guitar riffs I spoke of earlier. All I got was a smack full of synthesizers. Except for when I searched, with something resembling desperation at this point, for track number nine, Elephant. How can a track sit so laxly when compared to the rest of an album’s voice? This perplexes me. I am aware that there is a synth and keyboard in Elephant, but all the elements are balanced in this track. The drums coincide with melodic yet punchy keyboard notes and throbbing guitars. Parker’s vocals are also so well balanced and mesmerising. This song is astounding and by far the stand out on the album.
Be Above It All draws you in with the pounding drums and reverberating wah wah wah of the synth, bordering on copulation with Midnight Juggernauts and the Beatles, ever so slightly – it’s more of an up-skirt feel. But from there, the only other tracks that I didn’t want to sojourn were Mind Mischief, Music to Walk Home By and Feels Like We Only Go Backwards. The other tracks were bordering on senile. Ironically, in the end it looks like Parker achieved what he set out to do. Quoted as saying in a recent interview, “I surrendered to temptation and desire to make an album that is really fucked up. But I also have a desire to sound like Britney Spears; I love pop music and bad plastics. On the one hand this album is weird and fucked up, but on the other hand it’s very pop.”
Touché, Mr. Parker, touché. The album is neither predominantly psychedelic rock, nor is it pop. It’s basically somewhere in the middle and parts of it are yes, fucked up. At least Parker is aware of it, and when he does do something right, like include ethereal vocals in a guitar and drum laden track, and allow the listener to immerse themselves in the melody and beat, getting lost within the song’s palatial walls, then his epic tracks deserve praise. And they are tracks I will definitely replay.