Album Review: Tame Impala - “Lonerism”
Modular Recordings; October 5(AUS), 8(UK), 9(US) 2012
‘Innerspeaker’ was a much lauded album in 2010 when Tame Impala, the then Australian four-piece, driven by front man Kevin Parker, walked in their own stride, musically doing something that most bands wouldn’t dare do in the tidal wave of indie-pop bands forming on every corner of the globe. Welcoming them back in 2012, their long awaited and highly anticipated sophomore album, ‘Lonerism’, picks up where ‘Innerspeaker’ left off, more mature and another member stronger, they are still continuing to ignore the recurrent themes of guitar band twang that is slowly dying, and stand prominently at the forefront as a creative driving force in music today, showing that it’s worth making a sound that is completely different.
Kevin Parker, front man of the band, and having recorded the majority of the album himself, puts forward an amalgamation of influences from his heroes and psychedelic predecessors, much noticeably bands like The Flaming Lips (with whom the band had collaborated with on a track on their recent album ‘The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends’), The Beatles as we can hear from his Lennon-esque tone of voice, holding a rhythm of their own as they soar over the album opener ‘Be Above It’ as it steadily draws you into the world of ‘Lonerism’; thundering, echoing, reverberating, with the consistent repetition, ‘gotta be above it, gotta be above it’ and on heavy bass driven tracks such as ‘Elephant’, plodding along steadily, elephant-like in itself,that harkens back to the sound of Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’, equally as bass powered with strong guitars throughout. Songs like ‘Mind Mischief’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ prove to be essential slow grooving moments on the album, heavily rhythmic, as is a consistency throughout the album. ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, a two part voyage casts a wave of joyous optimism crashing into a huge wall of sound winding into the end of the track.
‘Lonerism’ also plays with ambient sounds that create another dimension to the album and bring the listener into a different experience, not just musically but emotionally, on tracks like ‘Keep On Lying’ and ‘Nothing That Has Happened…’ we hear the sounds of a conversation through the barrier of sound that is the track, in some way making the listener feel isolated or alienated from the conversation, ‘Sun’s Coming Up’ doing the same with the sound of lone footsteps mingling with the sound of the wind reaching the end of the track.
‘Music To Walk Home By’ explodes with such bounce and uncontrollably addictive groove, as there is throughout the whole album, it’s almost too easy to miss out on the melancholy of the lyrics. Lyrically, the album seems to showcase a quite an isolated and lonely outlook, much in contrast to the album sonically, but very much in link with the title of the album, probably making it more cohesive as an album than their début. On songs like ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me?’, Parker questions his isolation, similar to ‘Music To Walk Home By’ where he again questions his difference from everyone else even though he tries to fit in, having both the sadness in the lyrics hidden by the happiness within the sound of the music itself works to balance the whole album out, making you feel good to feel bad.
Closing track ‘Sun’s Coming Up’ turns a head and is the simplest song on the album in the sense that the first half of the song comprises solely of a sombre piano sequence and Parker’s vocals. It seems to me that even through all this happy sounding sadness, it comes to a head where there is a silent point of realisation that there is a real unhappiness within, but this soon ends when it that bursts into a reverberating guitar outro falling back into the ambience of what was running through the album previously, a sort of reassurance that you can still put on a brave face even the greatest moments of alienation from the rest of the world.
Tame Impala’s second offering provides a fresh outlook on the forever revived genre of psychedelia without playing to standard clichés, but using the past to create something that not only sounds as if it has come straight out of another decade than the present, but still remains refreshing and creates a completely new sound in a time where very much of everything sounds the same and a contender to be one of the best albums of the year. It is very easy to draw comparison to the sounds of the 60s and early 70s when talking about Tame Impala, but there’s no point in denying that there is that influence. With this band, there is not so much an experimentation in the aforementioned genre, or an attempt to revive it, but a full immersion in all that is laid before us in the music of the past, and with that and a genuine understanding of using music to emote, Tame Impala have created something truly exciting.
posted by Zainab Hassan.