Review: Currents by Tame Impala
For long-term fans of Tame Impala, the vast differences between Currents and previous albums are indisputable. The extensive guitar riffs that feature so prominently throughout Lonerism and Innerspeaker are nowhere to be heard here. It even looks different, as this is the first Tame Impala album to not feature album artwork by the Australian artist Leif Podhajsky.
Currents begins with Let it Happen, a 7-minute long epic that perfectly encapsulates the essence of the album as whole. The song is a glimpse into the psychedelic pop that Tame Impala are offering. With this newfound creative and interesting use of synthesizer melodies, it is clear that this a progression in sound for the band. Although previously subtle in their use of electronic instrumentation, it is now at the forefront of their music. The guitar riffs that epitomized their previous albums have taken a backseat here; this is executed brilliantly however, with only Love/Paranoia truly feeling like they are lacking something.
Kevin Parker has confessed his love of pop, which has clearly had a profound influence on his change in style. Whilst the reception from some fans has been somewhat negative because of this, it is far closer to the music that he has wanted to make, making the album far more personal and interesting to listen to. He said this in a recent interview, stating that he would always shut out the dance inspired songs that Currents is filled with, as he “thought that those influences were taboo or not fitting the realm of psych rock”. Tracks like Cause I’m a Man are a flirtation with the pop genre filled with beautiful falsetto vocals but still sound instantly at home on their ‘psych rock’ setlists. The memorable nature of the melodies make the tracks on Currents highly anticipated at all Tame Impala shows.
This upbeat sound that prevails throughout is sometimes surprising as Currents is, in part, a heartbreak album. Inspired by Kevin Parker’s recent break up, he said in an interview with the Guardian that “when you’re the one not just observing someone else changing, but it’s you, it’s arguably more powerful.” He admits this in his lyrics – “Yes I’m changing, can’t stop it now/And even if I wanted I wouldn’t know how.”
Currents is brilliantly interspersed with shorter songs like Nangs, Gossip and Disciples that make you want to listen to the album as a whole rather than just selecting the more popular singles. Gossip is a perfect introduction of dreamy electronic sound to one of the best tracks on the album, The Less I Know the Better. The catchy guitar riff throughout makes it a track that is the most reminiscent of a traditional Tame Impala sound. Currents is an exceptional blend of rock and electronic music, creating an amalgamation of popular genres but in such an original way. Tame Impala are not defined, nor limited, by the psychedelic rock genre; they have evolved it with them, making an album so brilliantly imaginative and skilful.
Originally published by Epigram.