Prime Edition

Under currents of psychedelia
AKHIL SOOD  25th Jul 2015


Tame Impala

Interscope Records

Here's a question: When did Tame Impala become Lame Impala? Well, not quite. But band owner Kevin Parker has, on Currents, ditched the thrilling crunch of the guitars for a more measured, synth-heavy record that's a departure from their previous life as a psychedelic rock 'n' roll band. In other words, they've gone electro.

When you think about it, though, it's not that drastic a shift; at their core, Tame Impala basically infused a dribbling sense of psychedelia and modernity to a landscape steeped in an almost revivalist '60s and '70s sound, to great results. The latter half of that swiveling template is replaced now by keys and loud synths that act as a backing track for Parker's slight, hypermelodic style of singing, but the motif of modernism, and Parker's unique interpretation of psychedelia, remains just as strong.

A soft strain of soppiness to the music and the words runs through Currents — understandably, since some of the lyrical material alludes to a break-up — while the imaginative dynamics of the straightforward-ish drums against the fluttering instrumentation around them adds a great deal of excitement to the music. A sense of togetherness, too, is provided courtesy the sublime, lean production (by Parker).

But does it have that intangible quality to it that makes music so fruitful and fruitless to discuss? Currents is being touted, almost unanimously, as some radical, defining album of our times — comparisons to Loveless and Kid A have been made too. But for this writer, for what it's worth, the album doesn't quite register as the sort of masterpiece it allegedly is. All told, it's a really good, tight record — maybe even great — with lots of memorable moments — Let It Happen, Yes I'm Changing, Eventually, New Person Same Old Mistakes — but the unified vision that it furthers also means a kind of static, monotone dynamic quality. I feel awe and a distanced admiration for it, but that intrinsic emotional connect? It lacks elasticity on early listens, and there doesn't seem to be enough in there to suggest it's a slow burner. But maybe it is; time will tell.

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