Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Modular
Genre(s): Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Amagazine recently canvassed the opinions of Tame Impala's Australian mastermind Kevin Parker on the differences between his second album Lonerism and its predecessor, Innerspeaker. On the face of it a straightforward query, but Parker required three goes at the answer, a state of affairs that led the journalist to compare him with Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap. First he suggested Lonerism contained "melodies that beam at you rather than wash over you".
The list of artists who have tried to be like The Beatles is a looong one. Ramones invented scuzz-punk while trying to be “The Beatles on speed”. ELO’s aim was to pick up where ‘I Am The Walrus’ left off. Daniel Johnston’s entire career is a naive attempt at emulating the Fab Four. And ….
There's a better than decent chance that, no matter where you are, Perth, Australia is pretty far away, a fact that pretty much makes Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker an isolated pop genius' isolated pop genius. Working mostly by himself, Parker mines this solitude with brilliant results on Tame Impala's sophomore effort, Lonerism. Diving headfirst into the realm of pop music, the way Parker uses keyboards to explore more traditional melodies makes the album feel like the McCartney to Innerspeaker's Lennon, blending the familiar with the far out to craft a Revolver-esque psych-pop experience.
Human brains are designed to pick up patterns and themes, common messages that we can group together. When this process isn’t subconscious and we actually have to think about a motif, we experience a conscious boost of instant gratification when there’s a balance between the ease and difficulty of decoding the message. That’s how my mind organized the beauty of Lonerism – very little effort to crack the code, but enough work to coat my ego into thinking that I’m one with the artists.
If their debut was any indication, Tame Impala's second full-length, Lonerism, will once again be compared to albums from the late 1960s and early 70s. But if their intent was to make a record that sounds like it came from that era, they've failed and ended up with something more fascinating. Sure, there's merit to the countless groups and scenes that seek out the right tube amps and compressors and microphones in order to create flawless period pieces.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why the autumn is so beautifully bittersweet. Perhaps it’s the obvious shift in climate, the warmth of summer dissipating with a chill signaling the impending winter. Maybe it’s in the foliage, swirls of brows and reds curling underneath your feet in rounds, or the sunlight that wanes earlier and earlier with every progressing day.
Terms like “psychedelic” still hold water with Lonerism, Tame Impala’s latest opus, but it’s almost impossible to be fully aware of what you’re hearing at first, so surprising and overwhelming is the onslaught. The level of musical complexity and pure joy produced here approaches the output of bands like murky synthbrains Boards of Canada or Brazilian weirdoes Os Mutantes, though perhaps with more aching melody and syrupy, avian majesty. The album coruscates like a bizarre alien jewel, and even the likes of Beatles studio wizard Geoff Emerick might be caught drooling over producer Dave Fridmann’s soundscapes.
Tame ImpalaLonerism[Modular Recordings; 2012]By Brendan Frank; October 5, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetPerth, Australia, is one of the most isolated metropolises on the planet. With the Indian Ocean to the west and desert in every other direction, it is over 2000 kilometers away from another major city. It also accounts for over ¾ of the population of the lightly inhabited Western Australia, by far the largest state in the country.
When Kasabian released West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum three years ago they claimed it was influenced by Sixties psychedelic legends The Pretty Things and Thirteenth Floor Elevators, described it as a hallucinogenic soundtrack to an imaginary movie and boasted about how the record would be heralded as a game-changing masterpiece in years to come. They were wrong. Very wrong in fact.
TAME IMPALA play the Phoenix on November 12. See listing. Rating: NNNN As easy as it is to describe Australia's Tame Impala with hyphenated genre epithets like "neo-psychedelia" or "stoner-dream-pop," the band describes its sound best in a song title from their new LP - Music To Walk Home By. Bandleader Kevin Parker has an obvious knack for pop hooks, not to mention an uncanny vocal resemblance to John Lennon, but this is headphone music in the purest sense.
The “ism” in the new Tame Impala album, Lonerism seems to indicate a religious ideology more than a political one. There is a persistent devotion in Kevin Parker’s songs that turns the heavy-lidded repetition at the sonic core into a psychedelic mantra. The new album begins with an energetic, looped whisper: “Gotta be above it”. The song, “Be Above It”, has few lyrics beyond that continual assurance.
“I always wanted to be adored [for] my work, but at the same time I feel something extraordinary when people hate it.”– Kevin Parker, Tame Impala In the interest of humoring Kevin Parker, I tried. What is there to hate about Tame Impala? Lonerism isn’t a vast departure from Innerspeaker, but the melodies are poppier, even while the subject matter has gotten more, um, lonely. And yes, there are more synths this time.
Midway through “Nothing That Has Happened So Far,” a bulldozer of sublime psychedelia on Tame Impala’s sophomore LP, a mysterious voice emerges from the swirl: “You’re thinking about everything, aren’t you?” it asks, bathed in fuzz, as drums tumble wildly and electric guitars shiver with flange. “I know it’s crazy—just don’t think of it like that / Nothing has to mean anything.” Band mastermind Kevin Parker has hyped Lonerism as a more focused, linear album than their breakout debut, 2010’s Innerspeaker, referencing the new songs’ narrative flow and emotive core. But lyrics were never—and still aren’t—the point of this Australian quintet’s vintage, effects-drenched stranglehold.
The enjoyable thing about Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker was its enduring sense of surprise — how its melting pot of Brit-pop, American psychedelia, and modern indie revealed different layers of itself within different contexts, like looking at a diamond through different levels of lighting. There were moments when, depending on your mood, it seemed like a revival record, a drug record, or a rock-out record. On your best days, it combined all three.
Kevin Parker is a loner in more ways than one. Tame Impala's lyrics tend to discuss a challenge to overcome obstacles Parker's brought on himself (see former single "Solitude is Bliss"), while in the studio he creates every note of Tame Impala on his own: "just the sound of music in my head." And so the much talked about title of his second album, Lonerism, makes complete sense. Seeing as it's the only result that Google yields, it's also a definitive statement for an album that deserves such a thing.
If you take the ‘–ism’ suffix in the title to connote the “action, process or result” of something, you could logically surmise that Tame Impala’s second album ‘Lonerism’ is some sort of chronicle of the phenomenon of loneliness. Whether it’s how someone acts when subjected to neglect or rejection or detailing the experiences that get one to that point, frontman, Kevin Parker, has laid it all bare. He actually sounds like the loneliest man in the world.
To hear Kevin Parker talk about it, Lonerism was a nightmare to make. In an interview with The Guardian, he called the two years he spent endlessly tinkering with tracks “crucifying.” Everything about it suggests an album arisen out of the combination of immense self-doubt and obsessive attention to detail; its very existence seems a bit of a miracle. And like most albums borne out of isolation and perfectionism (Pet Sounds , Loveless , Laughing Stock ) it sounds natural and unfettered, as if its creator moved backwards in time to erase the struggle of his own laborious process and discovered something that was already there from the beginning.
El Perro Del Mar “Don’t want to feel lonely,” sings El Perro del Mar — the recording name of the Swedish songwriter Sarah Assbring — from the isolation of the recording studio on her fifth album, “Pale Fire” (The Control Group). Love, particularly how elusive it is, is her continuing topic, but she has greatly changed her approach to it for this album. She has exchanged physical instruments for synthetic sounds.
Tame Impala’s Lonerism is a tribute to solitude that shows the remarkably expansive nature of a single mind. Kevin Parker, the Australian psych-rock outfit’s main man, recorded the bulk of the album by himself in Paris, isolated by the language barrier. The change of environment primarily leaves its mark in the song title “Endors-Toi,” if anyone was worried that the French aesthetic might lead Parker to clean up his fuzzed-out guitars.
Ask Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker what drives him to make music, and he'll describe the artistic urge as "a symptom of a directionless existence"; push him further on the subject and he'll go on to explain that bumming around in the sun, getting stoned and jamming with mates is as intrinsic a part of the Western Australian lifestyle as draining a tinny while chucking another shrimp on the barbie. But for all the laziness and apathy implied within such a sweeping, stereotypical statement, there are an awful lot of frighteningly prolific bands currently operating in and around the Perth area - Pond, Space Lime Peacock, Mink Mussel Creek et al - most of whom seem to have included Parker amongst their line-ups at one point or another. Just 26 years old, Parker's reputation as a gifted multi-instrumentalist and DIY producer had him singled out as a big fish in that particular pond long before Tame Impala scored a worldwide critical hit with debut LP Innerspeaker; now a known name in wider circles (that record won awards at home and abroad, and was named Rolling Stone's 'Album of 2010'), one might reasonably expect some degree of self-indulgence on follow-up Lonerism, but despite keeping starrier company these days - hanging out with the Flaming Lips and having his songs remixed by Todd Rundgren - Parker's approach to recording remains refreshingly down-to-earth.
Superbly psychedelic second set with a very British-sounding soul. Martin Aston 2012 Lonerism’s cover shot peers through a gate at a row of reclining sunbathers in what looks like Le Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. In other words, not very psychedelic. Yet there’s currently nothing more psychedelic on earth than Perth quintet Tame Impala, whose penchant for feeding everything through pedal-tastic reverb-flanging-Echoplexed-backwards-fuzzboz FX makes a shoegaze band resemble an acoustic folk duo by comparison.