Tame Impala - Lonerism
By: Red On Black
On their second album the Australian psychedelic rock revivalists Tame Impala hit the bullseye yet again. Their last album Innerspeaker purloined the heart of many discerning rock fans not least with its trippy songs of loneliness which often recalled late period Beatles and was delightfully produced by The Flaming Lips soundboard guru Dave Fridmann. On this new album Lonerism a sense of isolation is once again the overriding theme but it is masked by the sheer variety of shade, colour and verve contained in these twelve songs. The bands unique leader Kevin Parker seeks his inspiration from polar opposite ends of the musical spectrum namely Britney Spears’ `plastic pop’ and predominantly from the well head of that ‘Wizard and true star’ the gargantuanly talented but often sadly overlooked Todd Rundgren. It is difficult to know quite where to commence here since you sense that those who were smitten with the blissful Innerspeaker may find the sheer levels of experimentation here somewhat grating and overbearing. Alternatively if you give it sufficient time you will detect a wayward relative, an enfant terrible who clearly is part of the same close knit family but growing up at an astounding rate.
Just listen to the first three songs and wonder about the fact that many of the newer bands who have released albums in 2012 struggle to capture this level of creativity and innovation on an extended canvass of 45 minutes plus. Opener ‘Be above it’ is all vocal loops and probably the most insistent drumming since Underworld’s anthem ‘Born Slippy’. Next in line ‘Endor Toi’ achieves what Yeasayer have miserably failed to do on their new album by creating huge whirlwinds of pop psychedelica within the framework of a beautiful melodies, whilst ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ is as a funky as anything on Lewis Taylor’s Lost Album and as equally brilliant. Timing is everything and on the same day that ELO issue a new greatest hits ‘Why won’t they talk me ‘ echoes Jeff Lynne while ‘Feel like we are going backwards’ is pure summer of love and blissed out vibes. Mention in dispatches should go to the wonderful pop of the single ‘Elephant’ a sprawlingly ambitious song which throws in the kitchen sink, the gas cooker and the microwave. It is far the most rocking track on the album but pumps along with enough distractions to grab your attention with a vice like grip. God knows what is going on all together in the six minute plus ‘Nothing that has happened so far has been anything we could control’ punctuated by whirring Parker vocals, spoken dialogue and almost a Syd Barrett like pop longing which makes it such a unmitigated treat. In this sense the last song ‘Sun’s Coming Up’ might be the least favourite track on here starting with a gentle piano coda and ending with synthesiser waves crashing on the beach it might just be a bit too clever for its own good but more listens are required. In any case you can counter it with one of the bubbling highlights of the album the echo laden and spacey ‘Music to walk home by’ a song to wear your needle thin.
Tame Impala and their burgeoning levels of ‘Mind Mischief’ are turning this band into real contenders with their massive pop sensibilities combined with an eye for startling retro, so old it’s new. This is an album realised well in time for the forthcoming brightness of the Australian summer and no doubt will soundtrack the rising heat in those latitudes as the a hot sun slowly drifts down the line of beach. In the grey autumn of a dull October how we must envy our ‘Antipodean’ cousins for their fair climate and for having one of the best new bands on any continent.