Tame Impala resurrects with ‘The Slow Rush’
Renee Pierson | Wednesday, February 19, 2020
After five years of miserable dormancy, Tame Impala has returned with a matured sound on its fourth LP, “The Slow Rush.” Frontman Kevin Parker guides us through a psychedelic journey from past to future, even framing the album with songs titled “One More Year” and “One More Hour” to further emphasize the overarching theme of time.
The buildup for this album was intense. As an avid Tame fan, I knew that Kevin Parker had analyzed every track, tweaking sounds and lyrics until he felt they were worthy of our ears. And I was not disappointed.
Parker’s trademark echoey beats, thought-provoking lyrics and sonorous voice all appear on the album, but there is a notable change in his artistry. The sound quality is incredible, and the wide variety of instruments and sounds on each track work together in perfect harmony. To put it simply, Tame Impala has come into its own and found the perfect blend of consistency and novelty.
One standout track was “Breathe Deeper.” Sandwiched between the album’s pre-released singles, it seems Parker has faith in the song’s ability to capture attention amidst some of the band’s other hits. The catchy piano riff echoes his single “Patience” but isn’t redundant; the song’s overall “vibe” is much more intellectual and airy, making you want to get up and dance but also sit down and think.
The song’s lyrics are concerned with one’s natural need to stop and take a deep breath between moments of action. Parker attributes much of his success to the simple practice of breathing deeply and eloquently encourages us to do the same, singing “breathe a little deeper / should you need to come undone / and let those colors run.”
Another notable track is “Posthumous Forgiveness,” the second two-part song that Tame fans had been anticipating since “Love/Paranoia.” Its hard-hitting pulses are irresistible, as is the metaphysically-gorgeous introduction to the song’s second half. Parker’s lyrics show us a glimpse of his past and his constant struggle with regret. The sound of this track blends perfectly with the overall tone of the album.
The message of each song is unique, but they all support a thesis that Parker establishes early on: “One more year… of livin’ like the free spirit I wanna be,” he says in “One More Year.” “The Slow Rush” reminds us the future is uncertain and the past cannot be changed. Whether we’re taking a risk, lost in yesterday or wishing for one more hour, Parker challenges us to look past the constraints of time and take each moment as it comes.
Despite all of this, I do have a few qualms that prevent me from calling the album perfect. The early release of four of its alluring tracks was exciting at the time, but it ultimately detracted from the overall listening experience. While listening to the complete album, I was admittedly tempted to skip the songs I already knew in order to get to the newer ones.
Listeners tend to criticize writer Kevin Parker for reusing similar riffs and sounds, making his songs sound similar. While I recognize the validity of such a complaint, it seems to me that the consistency in Parker’s music is no different than that of other artists, whose songs sound relatively the same because they use the same instruments and have the same lead vocalists. The difference is that Tame Impala fronted an entirely new genre of music, so the distinctness in sound makes the similarities much more obvious.
It is also worth noting that “The Slow Rush” diverges from Parker’s past music in a number of ways. Both the “rock-and-roll” elements in “Innerspeaker” and “Lonerism” and the psychedelic intensity of “Currents” are present in the new album, but a muted, mysterious quality pushes Tame Impala into a new realm of stylistic sophistication.
Overall, I think the album was executed beautifully. There wasn’t a single song I didn’t like, even if some did take a few listens to fully appreciate. Although I might be a little biased, I can confidently express praise and gratitude for “The Slow Rush.” Kevin Parker has gifted us with an instant classic.
Artist: Tame Impala
Album: “The Slow Rush”
Tracks: “Breathe Deeper,” “Posthumous Forgiveness”
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