Tame Impala - Currents

6/10

Favorite Track: "Let It Happen" Least Favorite Track: "Reality Motion"


Tame Impala is an Australian psychedelic music project led by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, who writes, records, performs, and produces the music. Tame Impala as a live unit is something completely different. Tame Impala as a touring act is comprised of Kevin Parker on lead guitar and vocals followed by Dominic Simper and some members of the Australian psychedelic rock band Pond including Jay Watson, Cam Avery, and Julien Barbagallo rounding out the group. Through the years Kevin Parker has mustered up mass amounts of critical acclaim for his work under the name Tame Impala. His sound is generally psychedelic, ethereal, spacey, cosmic, and anything but straight forward. While I do enjoy Kevin’s last record Lonerism, I tend to find his sound a little drawn out, and not necessarily anything exciting. His 2015 record Currents, sort of continued this trend but it also did the opposite for me in a way. The record is just as psychedelic, cosmic, and even creative as Parker’s last two efforts and maintains an overall similar approach to a degree. Yet in contrast this project deals with themes of Parker coming to terms with the fact that he is a “loner” rather than dreading it and trying to bury the truth, which was discussed heavily on his two previous efforts. This record also features far less guitar work than a normal Tame Impala record does and in exchange it’s very bass heavy. This album tends to have more of a focus on groove and the core of the tunes in the context of each individual track opposed to Parkers past efforts that were only really listenable in the context of a complete LP rather than separate songs. With that being said Parker’s new sound brings us a much synth-heavier blend with more pop influence and overall most of the tracks remain more catchy. I would also say that the songwriting in general is more focussed on subject matter than Parker’s writing has ever been before. The record kicks off with my favorite track by far on this whole project. “Let it happen” is Tame Impala at it’s very best. Kevin’s vocal performance has far more passion and flavor than it usually does on the song and somehow this complete epic of a track manages to stay fully engaging throughout it’s almost eight minute run time. It does so with an absolutely genius bridge that is simply a loop of a previous instrumental passage that replays and progressively builds into the second half of the track which is introduced with an explosion of the hook. The track ends in a much better place than it begins and overall it culminates to one of my favorite songs of this length ever. Currents does a good job at providing us with these much shorter almost interlude like tracks directly after extended listens like “Let it happen”. Following “Let it happen” is “Nangs” which is a much shorter track in comparison and doesn’t even reach the two minute mark. Track #3 “The Moment” isn’t one of my favorites. I just fail to get anything out of this track, there isn’t really a catchy tune or a strong hook. You would think in comparison it would make up in lyricism but the track really doesn’t go anywhere interesting at all for it’s over five minute run time. “Yes I’m changing” is simultaneously one of the most interesting tracks on the record and also exactly what you would expect it to be. The track is essentially a ballad about change (as the title states). Kevin Parker goes monologue and describes “finding a new version of yourself” through a synth loop, a 4x4 beat, and some very subdued vocals. It comes out quite beautiful and the sentiment is delivered mostly effectively. Track #8 is a great example of the change that we see in Tame Impala’s sound on Currents. “The Less I Know The Better” is instantly funky. The guitar riff doubles as one of the most recognizable of the last ten years of indie music and probably my favorite guitar part from any song in Tame Impala’s discography. My understanding through the track and the attached music video is that the song is about someone pursuing a potential love interest who seems to already be in a relationship, and once this character is made aware of that, he tries to forget that it is reality thus him telling his love interest “the less I know the better”. It’s a pretty interesting idea for a Tame Impala track. Currents has a much more varied subject matter than the other pieces of Kevin’s discography and this adds to that catalog as one of his biggest songs ever. Another interesting milestone is the half song- half spoken word passage “Past Life”. None of the instrumentals really stand out as they are honestly just there to back up what the skit represents but the idea is essentially a story about someone who has a flashback of sorts and views a lover from a past life. It doesn't really add anything to the narrative of the LP for me and honestly seems like filler more than anything. Track #9 “Disciples” is basically half of a song. For being so short it really is enjoyable but it fails to deliver anything substantial to the project. The last three songs on the album for me really commit the same sin. They are all simply far too crowded and busy to even be enjoyed. Kevin Parker delivers some very off the wall production on this thing. The techniques used are very different than most Indie of this generation. The consistent nods to 60’s psychedlia demand attention throughout this whole listen. Each track is so carefully crafted with such precise attention to detail. This plays to the advantage of the record for the whole play through up until the last three songs which really lose sight of what they are trying to deliver. Yes, they are psychedelic, yes they are experimental, but they are simply far too crowded to the point where they almost become unlistenable. Not crowded in the way that an album like Radiohead’s “OK Computer” is or Tyler the Creator’s “IGOR” is where there is simply a lot to be dissected and it adds to the overall experience. These last couple of tracks are crowded in the way that they are simply impossible to mix even for the extremely talented producer that is Kevin Parker. This is because there is simply so much going on that there is no way to seperate the direction of each individual sound and idea. It simply doesn’t work. Overall Currents 100% takes a few listens to get into. There is no doubt that there is some extremely impressive musicianship all over this thing, which comes as no surprise. As a whole the LP is perplexing and I don’t have the strongest feelings for it in terms of critique or praise. Take it or leave it I guess, but if you love a good psychedelic rock revival record than i’m sure Currents will deliver for you on all fronts.

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