Retracing the tracks of Tame Impala, one album at a time.
Tame Impala, brainchild of Aussie indie star Kevin Parker have become one of the biggest arena acts of the past decade, gradually building from cult favourites to mainstream radio and festival stars. Tame Impala’s sound has evolved from psychedelic tinged indie through to full on neo-psych disco, the transition has been fascinating and made Parker’s output among some of the most interesting and sought after today.
Tame Impala’s first release is the oft overlooked Innerspeaker which was released in 2010, while this album hasn’t received the attention the 3 subsequent ones have it contains some of Parker’s best material and is a great showcase for his songwriting and guitar prowess, being more mellow and melodic in nature than much of Currents and the Slow rush, tracks like Alter ego and I don’t really mind pick things up a notch and for me Solitude is bliss must be near any list of Tame impala’s best, it still gives me chills.
Lonerism is where things really went up a notch elevating Tame Impala’s sound to another level, featuring some big hits in Elephant and Feels like we only go backwards, it’s the release that began Parker’s ascent to rock superstardom. There isn’t really a misstep on the record from opener “Be above it” through to the close, its dripping in psychedelic goodness and has set a clear blueprint for contemporaries like “Unknown Mortal orchestra” and “Temples”, it recalls sounds of the late 60s evoking the likes of T Rex, Sgt Pepper era Beatles and Jefferson Airplane, whilst setting its own clear course.
‘Elephant’ really rocks and one of the highlights of seeing Parker at the O2 last summer was seeing tracks from this record played live, sadly much of the focus of the gig was with fan-favourite Currents. The mid section of the record particularly flows exceptionally from the grooves of Mind mischief and apocalypse dreams to the otherworldniness of Music to walk home by. Anyone who has just listened to Currents or the slow rush must give this record a go and it is a great starting point for anyone wondering what the hype is about.
Currents really made the group a household name, blasting off into the stratosphere with disco indie banger “let it happen” and barely relenting with the group’s biggest hit “The less I know the better” and a smattering of other giant tracks such as “the moment”, “Yes I’m changing” and “cause I’m a man” it’s an incredibly mature record and one that you can really dance to, whilst incorporating elements of the previous indie sound, it is quite a clear departure that really put Tame Impala on the festival map, with recent slots at Glastonbury and the aforementioned slot at the O2 last June. This record did for Tame Impala what AM did for Arctic Monkeys 2 years prior.
The most recent release from Australia’s finest is another dip into the more disco flavoured coatings offered with Currents that largely parks guitars in favour of synths and drum machines, the guitars aren’t entirely absent and do get chances to come more to the fore. The record is infectious and joyful and shows even more maturity with Posthumous forgiveness dealing with the death of Parker’s father. One more year and it might be time are particular highlights. The record on the whole has carried on the momentum from Currents and whet the appetite for future releases, hopefully without a 5 year gap to the next record.
Words by Christopher Connor
Music lover from Surrey with a particular soft spot for Indie/britpop and classic rock. Can be found in the nearest record shop expanding my collection.