Tame Impala, “Currents”
Tame Impala’s excellent first two albums quickly defined mastermind Kevin Parker’s potent mélange of ’60s magical mystery tours, rock grit, and British guitar-pop sensibilities. The songs on 2010’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism often sounded like melted ice cream sizzling over concrete on a hot day, and it was beautiful. The band’s third album, Currents, is spacey, intricately layered, and soulful. It’s a release that sees Parker’s opaque lyrics about loneliness fading away in favor of more direct musings on private evolution.
Parker’s continued focus on deconstructing arena rock through the prism of electronic production isn’t all for show; it has an emotional epicenter. Early singles “Let It Happen” and “‘Cause I’m A Man” chronicle the process of a beautiful transformation jumpstarted by a heinous breakup. “Past Life,” which employs vocal distortion to make the speaker sound like Ghostface from Scream, turns a rather mundane recounting of a normal day into a fever dream of blown-out electronic bass, angelic singing, and a synth melody floating over the top of the mix. Even Parker’s voice has undergone a transformation, with the singer adopting a falsetto vamp that extricates him further from the (albeit valid) John Lennon comparisons.
An album with such an emphasis on bricolage could have easily become lifeless, but Parker’s tweaks to the Tame Impala formula all grant Currents a deeper sense of humanity. Tame Impala may not have made the perfect psychedelic record—not yet, at least—but they’re damn close.