Tame Impala Currents Interscope
Kevin Parker could be forgiven for resting on his laurels. They’re good laurels. Both Innerspeaker and Lonerism introduced the world to a unique brand of neo-psychedelia that deftly innovated within a patchwork of bygone genres to uproarious effect. In the process he earned the affection of tastemakers and critics as well as the comfortable acceptance of the “guitar music isn’t dead” crowd, establishing a core fan base that grew exponentially with each new tour date.
But with pressure mounting, the question of just how to maintain the spell is one that must have wracked his brains during long, solipsistic stints in lonely studio spaces. Should he live up to the brand of Tame Impala as psych-rock revivalists, or just go with what feels natural?
On Currents, he’s opted for the latter. The shift in sonic palette – the displacement of sun-bleached, illusory fuzz for a cosmos of super-clean synthetic strings – reflects the real life changes he documents with simple lyricism. The album acts as an immaculately crafted apology for this change. The lyrics are laced with an awareness of an ever-present fan-base who may feel left behind by a shift towards poppier, dancier territory. Most songs act as an attempt to justify himself; to this lover, to his fans; as if there exists an obligation for him to remain the same as he was in 2010, or 2012, and the resulting sound is often soft, guilty almost, with cuts like Yes I’m Changing floating along wistfully with all the dreamlike glaze of the Twin Peaks theme tune remixed by Purple Rain-era Prince.
Granted, there are some off-piste moments. The spoken word narration on Past Life would trigger concerned looks across the room at any listening party. Yet the slow, low-rider rocking-motion of tracks like Same Person, Same Old Mistakes provide a brand new axis from which to view Parker’s songwriting prowess: a refreshing sense of liberation.