Album of the week: Tame Impala: Currents | Album review

Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 07:00



Tame Impala



The title of Tame Impala’s third full-length record – Currents – suggests a number of things; something popular, flowing, a certain pace, electricity, and a course of action. In many ways this brilliant record encompasses a sense of all these things, managing to sound both acutely personal and universal at the same time.

The album’s opener, the almost eight-minute Let it Happen, instantly scoops you up into Kevin Parker’s dreamy world, signifying some surprising developments – the trademark hazy guitars are not necessarily gone, but are instead replaced with a focus on bass, luscious synths, and a searching kind of percussion that drifts in and out from disco to trippy electronica. Yet it all sounds so natural, and part of the rich creative well that Parker is drawing from; for this record, influences such as The Bee Gees and Roxy Music loom over an exploration of change.

Sometimes Impala’s synonymous psychedelic touchstones are playfully mingled with classic pop, as on The Moment, with its deep bass and swirling synths; or the romantic Yes I’m Changing, which brings to mind something like The Cars’ 1984 song Drive. It showcases Parker’s lovely falsetto, and provides layers of interesting sounds, from flitting synths to a burst of traffic noise, which is code for the “world out there, and it’s calling me/It’s calling you, too”. Street life itself – those currents again.

Themes of moving away from someone and something permeate the work. It seems like a necessary shift, and provides a certain clarity to Parker’s work and production. It’s there in the heavy guitars on Eventually, a love-letter to breaking up (“but I know that I’ll be happier, and I know you will, too”). The mellow funk and the sharp guitars on The Less I Know the Better is an unexpected delight, and Past Life’s spoken word verses about the ghosts of our life are complemented by a blissed-out chorus. Cause I’m a Man is full of apology, yet New Person, Same Old Mistakes is possessed of a hope to “be better”. It’s a deeply personal statement, and a perfect closing song on one of the records of the year.