Tame Impala’s previous two efforts, Innerspeaker (2010) and Lonerism (2012), were widely talked about pieces of work that pushed the boundaries of psychedelic rock into previously unexplored territory. On their third studio album, Currents, lead singer Kevin Parker has perfected his knack for crafting exquisite melodies layered beneath his own Passion Pit-sounding vocals. This album gravitates towards soft rock, resulting in a polished ‘70s sound that feels much more relaxed than his previous work.
The songs here feel airy: Both the production and Parker’s vocals are noticeably less constrained than his previous albums, with the songs consisting of multiple parts and shifting melodies. Seven-minute-long album opener, “Let It Happen,” is an almost funk-derived tune, with huge guitars and vintage synths. Lead single, “‘Cause I’m A Man,” is a stunningly laid-back track featuring soaring vocals, while the truly impeccable song, “The Moment,” is heavily reminiscent of Jessie Ware’s 2012 album, Devotion.
The record is made even more intriguing with the themes and production of the songs reflecting the ill-fated themes brilliantly. For example, “Reality In Motion”—the song most similar to the band’s past work—deals with the regrets of one’s own self doubt in the past. ‘“Cause I’m A Man,” oozes with self confidence, presumably with this new musical direction; the album is at once looking back whilst moving psychedelically forward.
Though Parker has clearly excelled in rehashing the psychedelia-come-soft-rock sound of the ‘70s, that very inspiration is an undeniable problem in the album. Not only do many of the songs sound similar, but they all seem like attempts at reconstructing some sort of idealized notion of a bygone era. The album, despite being a refreshing listen, is not revolutionary nor particularly emotive. Granted, Currents is being released at a time when re-imagining the past, whether it be through music, photos, or fashion, is en vogue; perhaps it should be enjoyed from that perspective.
Overall the handful of truly outstanding tracks outweigh the lackluster ones, and these songs shine out as true gems that are worthy of recognition. Currents sounds anything but current. Instead, Tame Impala succeeded in rehashing ‘70s soft rock in an album that is unlike anything else that’s been released this year.
Standout Tracks: “The Moment,” “The Less I Know the Better,” & “Disciples”
This article was corrected Thursday, July 30, 2015. The Tribune regrets these errors.