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Best New Music: Tame Impala – Currents (Album Review)

Three years ago, Tame Impala blew minds with their psych-opus Lonerism. Guitars shimmered and floated, drums thumped, there was echo and reverb galore. The mind tripped and floated, and horizons were broadened. Everything about it was just so gloriously fuzzed out, and the warmth that it glowed with, wrapped itself around you and took you to the highest of cloudy heights. It was a kaleidoscopic journey in a hot-air balloon. It sparked a major revival of psych-rock that’s since become a burgeoning movement, and the album is now regarded as a modern-day classic in the genre.

Something that made the whole thing so much more impressive is that it all came from the mind of just one man, because, you see, Tame Impala isn’t so much a band as it is an extension of Kevin Parker himself. He is Tame Impala, and Tame Impala is purely the embodiment of the sounds rattling around in his head. It’s a vehicle that brings his musical fantasies into the real world, and fantasies are an ever-changing thing. They rarely rest in stasis. The same can be said for us people, and now three years later, Kevin Parker is showing us his new self in all its glory.

This new self of his has cast the fuzziness of his previous self aside, with new album Currents, as if rough edges have been smoothed out, and Parker seems to be embracing this change with open arms and is quite evidently shouting it from the rooftops, not only with the new synth-centric dance-pop sweeping-ballad sound he’s now flaunting, or with lyrics that stem from a place of intense self-realization, but through the titles of the tracks themselves.

There’s “Let It Happen“, the epic opener in which Parker hears of a “whirlwind that’s comin’ ‘round” – one of deep personal change, you would wager. There’s the ballad “Yes I’m Changing“, heavily cloaked in layers of synths, and really, nothing more needs to be mentioned besides its title. It does though contain the line that may as well be the subtitle for the album: “they say people never change, but that’s bullshit, they do”. It so succinctly, and quite aggressively, boils things down. Just as aggressively as Parker has changed his sound.

With any change we go through, no matter how small or big, slivers of self-doubt and insecurity work their way out from deep within and play on your mind, making you question if this is really the you that you want to be, and if this is the right sort of change for you. Parker’s no different, seemingly at war with his old self on closing track “New Person, Same Old Mistakes“. Its bassline creeps, and threads of synths weave in and out to create an unsettling tapestry, and there’s a palpable darkness surrounding the whole thing that you won’t feel anywhere else on the album.

You’ve got your demons”, Parker throws at himself in the bridge of the song. The ones that made him the introspective loner he was on his first two albums? Ones he’ll fearfully maybe never be able to shake? “How will I know it’s right?”, “how will I know I’ve gone too far?”, he then asks himself in the final chorus, and all of a sudden Parker’s being swallowed up by his insecurities, and everything’s left in an uncertain state, on a precarious knife-edge. What’s happened to the world-beater that was seizing ‘The Moment’ earlier on and bravely announcing, “I can’t just spend my whole lifetime wondering”?

Currents isn’t just an album. It’s not just a collection of tracks that have been put into some arbitrary order that have then been packaged up. No. This is so much more. This is the ubiquitous battle in life between progression and stagnation. Between knowing you can change and actually wanting to. Between struggling against life and just letting things happen. What’s next for Kevin Parker? That’s for him to know and for us to find out. Tame Impala’s Currents is out now on Modular Recordings, purchase it here.

Words by Oli Kuscher

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