Kevin Parker’s Perth based band TAME IMPALA make a comeback this year with their ‘Sophomore’ album ‘Lonerism’.
Tame Impala are not a traditional modern rock band. These guys are not Metal, nor are they Indie. Nowadays most modern bands making a decent name for themselves will be put into one of the two categories of Metal/Indie (apologies for any over generalisations). Failing that, get described as ‘Alternative’. However Tame Impala are the real neo-Psychedelic deal. Bands since the 70s have claimed influence on the Beatles, and afterwards the likes of King Crimson and Pink Floyd, however to me this means nothing. Tame Impala prove it.
Lonerism is more sonically expansive from their debut EP ‘Innerspeaker’ with more emphasis put on synth/keyboard usage as opposed to guitar work. Do not let that fool you though, their psychedelic take on modern forms of rock still let the guitars run free. This can be seen heavily with the track ‘Endors Toi’ which translated from French means, ‘go to sleep’.
The dizzy, eddying introduction to the song creates a preface to a calmer trance-like state of affairs that the song turns into with the trademark Kevin Parker reverb splashed vocals. This in turn explodes into an instrumental section that makes one do anything but ‘endors toi’. Another stand out track for me was ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ this song makes me think of if Motown Records and Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett era) had a love child. It hits off with a classic Motown back beat drum rhythm with clean vocals that lead into a more floating section with the John Lennon style reverb vocals that Tame Impala fans have come accustomed to. With some beautiful solo guitar sections with tone recorded to perfection. The altered states within ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ hints at similarities towards the classic Beatles song ‘A Day In the Life’.
With this being the second album by Tame Impala Kevin Parker has said he decided to spend more time working on lyrical content with a more expressive/emotional approach to songwriting. This is very notable with ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me?’. Content wise it is what it says on the tin so to speak. The album cover photo was taken behind bars at the ‘Jardin du Luxembourg’ links with the thought of seclusion, ‘them and me’. Some childhood/high school angst and resentment deep seated in the mind of an older psychedelic man with the lines ‘But I don’t even care about it anyways/One day I’ll be a Star and they’ll be sorry”.
The thought of not fitting in and institutionalized education and its ‘cliques’ contextually links with the first single of the LP; ‘Elephant’, A hard rocking fuzz fueled strut showing that Parker can still deliver the heavy goods in a predominantly ‘lighter’ and retrospective album. The vocals have a groove to them that could easily provide an alternative version of John Travolta’s majestic swagger in the intro to Saturday Night Fever. ‘Elephant’ is a song a bout a too cool for school ‘Jock’ the side of the bully, which is the point to the song. The phonetically sound lines ‘He pulled the mirror off his Cadillac/’Cause he doesn’t like it looking like he looks back’ will be in a loop in your head for a while after listening to this song.
Overall the album is a great follow up to ‘Innerspeaker’. However, I can imagine some Tame Impala fans may have losing sight in the lack of guitar -based songs. I personally do not see less guitars as a bad thing, the use of different instruments created a perfect infrastructure for the album. The softer tones that link with the softer and more emotional context. The album heavily touches upon seclusion, the mind process of seclusion. With ‘Endors Toi’ the lyrics are talking about deeper aspects of life; living, dreaming, sleeping, dying. The links between them all, the idea again with the artwork and the well chosen photo taken by Kevin Parker of the ‘Jardin Du Luxembourg’ behind a barred gate. Not letting in. Alone. The lyrical content makes sense of Solipsism as a way for Kevin Parker to justify his ‘Lonerism’.