Tame Impala time travels in ‘The Slow Rush’

If Tame Impala’s third album, Currents, is the outset of an interstellar psychedelic sugar-pop trip, then their fourth full-length release, The Slow Rush, released on Feb. 14, is that trip’s arrival. In his most recent offering, Kevin Parker, the singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist behind the band’s music, has delivered another genre-defying album that reflects his continued radical commitment to perfectionism. While Parkers psychoactive sound has come to help shape contemporary rock and pop music, The Slow Rush sounds like it was made for an era that has not yet arrived.

The shift in production style between Tame Impala’s sophomore album Lonerism and Currents is a sharp, but welcome, divergence into more avant-garde territory, as Currents borrows elements from modern electronic-synth pop. In The Slow Rush, the production has become even more futuristic; synthesizers and phazers feature heavily, and sounds like that of a laser gun firing are incorporated into the soundscape. Tracks like “Glimmer” and “Is It True” find more footing with groups like Crystal Castles or Neon Indian than they do with long-cited comparisons of Parker’s sound such as The Beatles.  

The album’s lyrics are still themed by a melancholy yearning present in past Tame Impala tracks. Yet, rather than focusing on an individual person, Parker’s emotions seem captured by a broader sense of nostalgia, as he reflects on the idealization of memories and recognizes the fleeting nature of the present. The album opens with the massive humming vocal synths of “One More Year,” as Parker questions: “Do you remember we were standing here a year ago?” As the bridge opens, the synths give way to a sparse piano melody, and the sonic gap begs the listener to anticipate the impending drop and sets the tone for the rest of the album. In the final track, “One More Hour,”  the intense guitar chords matched with heavy snare and bass hits, which one can’t help but compare to Current’s “Eventually,” seal the record in an appropriately bombastic fashion. 

Everything about The Slow Rush—its lyrics, its melodies, and the emotions it evokes—suggest a fruition of Parker’s artistic maturity. Tame Impala’s sound has evolved in astounding ways through each phase of their discography. As a record, it transcends easy categorization because it so fluidly blends elements of traditional indie rock with futuristic electro-pop. Parker, like no one else, is making music which seems to come from another place and another time.

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