Reviewed by: Fareeha Naim
Tame Impala can be described in many ways: psychedelic, soulful, electrifying. Predictable is not one of them. If you have been a fan through Lonerism and Innerspeaker, prepare for a different yet purely gratifying listening experience. Gone are the guitar driven ballads and introverted lyrics—in its place, an abundance of synth and heartbreak. And, of course, their utter brilliance with musical creation.
From the opening song, “Let It Happen,” lead singer and songwriter Kevin Parker combines his magnetic voice with a synth beat that immediately sticks in your brain. Infused with long bouts of electronic breaks and an interlude of what sounds like a half-second loop that repeats for over a minute, this 8 minute stunner is not one to be forgotten quickly. Following that is the short and open ended “Nangs,” only having the line “But is there something more than that?” repeated a few times over the less than 2 minute track. Contrasts already, just in the first two songs. And it just gets more interesting from there.
Musically, this is an artistic triumph for Parker. It’s not a deviation of what “pop” music is; rather, an acknowledgment of what it’s perceived to be twisted with his own style and interpretation. The tracks are driven by a beat that makes you want to close your eyes and sway or bob rather than wildly jump. Leaving behind the strong guitar presence creates a calmer air, almost hypnotic to a point. A sharp contrast to “Elephant” from Lonerism, which is driven by its pulsating rock beat. While the rock sound hasn’t completely disappeared, it is less prevalent than expected. Within this one album, the synth somehow effortlessly meshes with a smooth R&B feel, predominant in “Cause I’m a Man,” and “Past Life.” These such combinations emphasize Parker’s flexibility as an artist; his ability to seamlessly integrate structural changes within each song to create a unique and attractive sound.
Whereas Lonerism and Innerspeaker were lyrically along the lines of already being alone and lost in oblivion with yourself only, Currents explores a new angle: heartbreak, regret, and transformation. The core of the lyrics reflect on losing a love and moving on from it. From the regret-filled “Eventually” (If only there could be another way to do this / Cause it feels like murder to put your heart through this) to the bitter “The Less I Know The Better” (Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side / No surprise when you’re on his shoulder like every night) to the accepting “Yes I’m Changing” (Life is moving, can’t you see / There’s no future left for you and me), Parker successfully captures the phases of moving on. No, he doesn’t just capture it; he embodies it. The whole album is thematically engulfed in the idea of change, both in its lyrics and its musicality. Well played, Parker, well played.
One thing’s for certain—this album will leave us hungry for more of whatever Tame Impala can offer.
Top 3 songs: “Reality in Motion,” “The Moment,” “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”