Release Date: Jul 17, 2015
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
In a few weeks’ time, the book Psychedelia and Other Colours is due to be published. The work of the academic Rob Chapman, it is a fantastic, exhaustive history of the genre: comprehensive but gripping, packed with eye-opening period detail and with a brilliant analysis of everything from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to the oeuvre of the Crocheted Doughnut Ring. But it ends around 1971, as psychedelia calcified into prog and the pop artists who’d sung of their minds growing up to the sky on Top of the Pops found themselves back on the cabaret circuit.
Currents is a record knowledgeable music fans are supposed to be excited for, paying attention to and ready to consider the best of the year. For one reason or another, Tame Impala has become the psych-rock equivalent of Arcade Fire or Kanye West. They’re an original voice in an established aesthetic, and that’s bound to get you positive coverage for the demographics reading both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork.
After two Tame Impala albums that centered on Kevin Parker's withdrawal from society, he has entered the stream of life on Currents. And he's lonelier than ever. The bemused, occasionally melancholy isolation that defined Innerspeaker and Lonerism has metastasized into heartbreak, bitterness, regret—feelings that can actually kill you if left untended.
Until now, paranoia, withdrawal and autonomous isolation were the recurring motifs of Kevin Parker’s work as Tame Impala; a telescopic falsetto diffusing from the psychedelic backwoods of his brilliant mind, with polychrome guitar scuzz providing the perfect backdrop for his psyche to be radiated in the shape of mesmerizing soundscapes. With Currents, the falsetto is as remote as ever, but the guitars have been (almost) altogether ditched. Instead, a masterful display of reclusive, kaleidoscopic synth-pop is seen as a better canvas for Parker to paint his own metamorphosed state of mind – a state of mind that is now a percolator of regret, and ultimately heartbreak.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. If you count yourself among those surprised by the synthy pop turn taken by Tame Impala on their new record Currents, it is worth tracing Kevin Parker's relationship with the guitar. On the group's 2010 debut record, Innerspeaker, Parker displayed an affinity for scuzzy melodies that beamed at listeners, creating a psychedelic sound for the 21st century.
Toward the end of Currents, Australian psych-rockonauts Tame Impala’s impeccable third studio LP, Kevin Parker tells us how he really feels. “The desire to know what’s going on / Does it really f—king matter?” he sings over a hazy, morning-dewy synth bed, snaps and six-string twangs reverberating throughout. But while listeners might not know or care why the dream-like “Rebel Waltz” organ in “Yes I’m Changing” might bring tears to their eyes, such processes do really f—king matter — at least, they do to Parker.
Lonerism set Tame Impala up to disappoint. The 2012 album garnered universal praise, launching Kevin Parker’s group into the upper tier of festival lineups and cultish fan followings. The Australian band was left with two routes: Rehash more psych rock, but face the blame of taking the easy route; or do something entirely new, but lose fans in the process.
Give the customers what they want. The customer is always right. Such eager-to-please truisms - with ‘listener’ in place of customer - are pretty much standard practise in the music biz, too. Especially if, like Tame Impala, you’ve managed to elevate your brand of synapse-frying, widescreen 21st century psych-rock to a festival-conquering mainstream concern from the cult margins where fuzzed-out guitars, distorted vocals and John Bonham and Keith Moon-digging big beats usually lurk in.
If nothing else, Tame Impala’s third album Currents has revealed the continued existence of residual resentment toward disco among rock fans. Early responses to the record’s early danceable single “Let It Happen” were mixed, but a very vocal minority expressed their distaste for the band’s move away from tasteful psych-rock toward a more intrepid electro-funk bent. For the followers of a band that styled themselves after the Beatles and retro garage rock artists, the song represented shameless aspirations toward mass appeal pop with—the biggest sin of all for those who value the elusive “human touch” of rock—heavy electronic influence.
Tame Impala's Kevin Parker has carved out a reputation for himself as something of a psych-rock revivalist. Tame Impala's first album, Innerspeaker, combined Parker's knack for melody with propulsive, crisp rhythms, endless washes of reverb, and fuzzed-out guitars. (The fact that his voice is a live ringer for John Lennon's has only encouraged comparisons to the Beatles' psychedelic period.) But as Parker sings on the fourth track of Currents, “Yes, I'm changing, can't stop it now.” Opener “Let It Happen,” an eight-minute ramble, announces, with no bones, the shift from Lennon-inflected psych-rock to warped, glossy disco that stops just short of being danceable.
The rise of Australia’s Tame Impala, and the hype surrounding their third album, has been reassuring. Spearheaded by Kevin Parker, the project thankfully delivered on its promise with first single Let It Happen: a smooth, constantly flipping seven-minute journey that recalls disco, Wichita Lineman and a stuck CD all at once. Themes in that song repeat throughout the album.
Every record Kevin Parker releases has its own distinct voice and personality. ‘Currents’ - his third Tame Impala album - continues that trend with aplomb. While ‘Lonerism’ was uneasy and alienated, hiding its pop chops behind misty shower curtains of humid reverb, ‘Currents’ dives off into bold and optimistic new waters. The experimentalism is still everywhere - there’s a seven minute glam-opera-epic, ‘Let It Happen,’ for goodness sake - but instead of fighting the sensibility that fueled songs like ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ on previous albums, Parker seems to have finally accepted his pop core.
Currents opens with "Let It Happen," which instantly launches itself into the Tame Impala pantheon. Well, maybe not instantly—it takes close to eight minutes. But what's quickly clear that this is a new shade added to Kevin Parker's grab-bag of popular music tropes, his deft hand emerging this time around with disco, house, and pop elements in tow.
Tame Impala's third studio album, Currents, is the follow-up to 2012's Lonerism, and the resolution of an introspective period for Kevin Parker, the founder, frontman and visionary of the Australian psychedelic rock band. Lyrically and sonically, the record mirrors his process of transformation during a break from making music with the band. Throughout, Parker deals with Tame Impala's sudden fame, and at times, it seems, with his breakup with Melody Prochet (Melody's Echo Chamber).
You’ve probably heard the story about how the human body replaces all its cells over a period of about seven years. It’s pretty much bullshit, naturally, but cast your mind back to what you were doing seven years ago: was that really you? Now try five years, or even two. Admit it! You’ve changed, haven’t you?Let’s pretend for a moment the myth is true.
Three years on from the brilliance of second album Lonerism, Kevin Parker and chums – although it’s admittedly hard to see this as anything other than a solo venture as Parker wrote, produced, recorded and mixed the lot virtually single handedly – Tame Impala re-emerge with their third collection of psychedelic-swathed ear candy. This time, though, it’s less Syd-Barrett era Pink Floyd and more recent memory Daft Punk. From the psychedelic rock of debut Innerspeaker, Lonerism saw a shift towards poppier psychedelics and Currents continues the musical evolution, all but banishing fuzzy pedal-laden guitars and replacing them with synths, pinned down by some funky beats amidst the usual spacey swirls.
Sorry for the wait. Kevin Parker hasn’t issued an apology, Lil Wayne-style, for the longest period yet between Tame Impala albums, but after 2012’s game-changing Lonerism, there has been a certain, shall we say, clamour for more. Amidst the swirling mass of critical acclaim that that record received, Lonerism propelled Parker to international recognition (a few steps away from genuine, household fame), landing him and his four-piece live band huge festival slots, high-profile TV appearances and top-table status in the guitar-band world.
There's a half-remembered quality to Kevin Parker's songs for Tame Impala. Melodies and rhythms arrive in thunderclaps — carefully orchestrated or artfully accidental — or float by in soothing clouds. These are the epiphanies and freakouts of decades past: soul, space rock, nerd funk, studio-whiz pop. You feel sure you recognize something, but you don't quite know from where or when.
Aussie psych lord goes pop. ‘I feel like a brand new person,’ Kevin Parker sings on New Person, Same Old Mistakes. As implied by other songs like Past Life and Yes, I’m Changing, transformation is a recurring lyrical motif on this third album as Tame Impala. ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads .
Tame Impala fans would be wise to regard the band’s third album not as a Tame Impala album at all, but one by a band called something like Domesticated Eland. Although Kevin Parker once again plays virtually every note on this self-produced record, as he did on his previous two outings, the heady hit album Lonerism (2012) and its predecessor, 2010’s Innerspeaker, Currents sounds little like the work of Australia’s pre-eminent psychedelic rock hero. The pedal-laden guitars are low in the mix.
After a long break from making Tame Impala music, during which time Kevin Parker produced other people's albums and played in side projects, 2015's Currents shows that much has changed with the project. Like before, Parker recorded the album on his own, only this time without Dave Fridmann's guiding hand and by mostly forsaking electric guitars in favor of a wealth of synthesizers, and this time out there's a much more relaxed, intimate approach. In addition to the soft rock of the '70s feel that permeates the sound, Parker adds elements of R&B and hip-hop to the mix, gets lyrically introspective in spots, and generally sounds like he's either on the verge of a long nap or just waking up from one.
Review Summary: Sounds like a million bucks. Feels like a three-dollar bill.Give Kevin Parker this: give the man a major label budget and he will present you with a major label sound. Currents sounds like a million bucks. As compressed as some of the instruments can get here, it always sounds like everything is in its right place, buffed to a chromatic sheen and arranged just so.
Instagram used to be strange. Before it became a “social platform,” it was billed as a single-purpose image editing tool, and even now it’s not difficult to remember how the filters (especially “Toaster” and “Kelvin”) were recognizable as poor approximations of what analog photography “looked like.” Instagram became ridiculous. Your parents and grandparents signed up, and the spontaneous aspect of the filters was all but completely forgotten as you saw them applied to so many pictures of meals and sunsets that the unchanging formula became transparent.
“Where’s the rock?” Tame Impala fans will ask upon listening to the Australian band’s hotly anticipated third album. Rather than bong-worthy psychedelics, distorted guitar and trippy drums, the Bee Geesish Currents seems made for hazy late-night dance floors. Past albums have been great for headphone listening, but there’s something about this one that seems meant for leaving your house and experiencing life.
Tame Impala's third LP traverses typical digestion time. The album's thrilling opener, "Let It Happen," won over fans at May's Levitation fest despite its newness. The Aussies previewed several forthcoming tunes that night, each receiving approval that commonly arrives with years of familiarity thanks to airtight pop appeal. That vibrant synth-pop/disco hybrid permeates Currents, as does woozy Seventies psychedelia, with Supertramp and Prince sensed as oft as the Beatles and Pink Floyd.
When Tame Impala, the recording name of Australian musician Kevin Parker, released Lonerism in 2012, it served notice that 2010’s Innerspeaker was no fluke, and that Parker was one of the more important artists working today. For the past three years, anticipation for the follow-up has been building. Now that Currents has finally arrived, the results are positive, if slightly underwhelming.
The name Tame Impala has never really been more than a front for Kevin Parker. It’s a band in the sense that LCD Soundsystem was; one musician, writing and recording almost everything on their own, with a solidified touring lineup. Parker always has and always will define what Tame Impala is. If you follow the lyrics from the beginning of Innerspeaker to the end of Lonerism, Parker etches his mercurial headspace into every line.
In another world, it was this way all along. Bands who loved the 60s understood that the reason to love the 60s is not simply the music, but what animated the people who made the music. Which is the impulse to go forwards. Or at the very least, look upwards. To stand on the shoulders of giants in ….
Smack in the middle of Tame Impala’s set at the Boston Calling Music Festival in May, the stranger next to me suddenly shouted his review of the performance: “I feel like I don’t know where I am!” It was a perfect (and succinct) description for the sort of magical mystery tour that Kevin Parker takes his listeners on. His songs are often dizzying fusions of psychedelic rock and narcotic pop, ending up in the least likely places. The Australian band’s new “Currents,” its third full-length album, takes yet another loophole, edging into the icy waters of dance-floor euphoria.
The essence of Tame Impala’s music isn’t the high, wistful voice of Kevin Parker, or the instruments he uses to build his songs. It’s not the haze of distortion and effects that got Tame Impala categorized as psychedelic pop on its first two albums, “Innerspeaker” (2010) and “Lonerism” (2012) — a haze that often clears on Tame Impala’s new and radically different album, “Currents. ” The core of Tame Impala is its aura of solitude, starting with the simple credits for “Currents.
Kevin Parker, of the Australian psychedelic band Tame Impala, performs at The Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island Park on June 7, 2015 in New York. Kevin Parker, of the Australian psychedelic band Tame Impala, performs at The Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island Park on June 7, 2015 in New York. Tame Impala's first two albums were prayers answered for acid-rock buffs.