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Album Review

by Tame Impala


Review Date
26th November, 2012
Reviewed by
Martyn Pepperell

With the release of their first self-titled EP in 2008, Tame Impala's band leader, multi-instrumentalist and producer Kevin Parker made it abundantly clear that a new force and voice for psychedelic rock had arrived. In the years following the release of that perfectly formed five tracker, Parker has continued to deliver on his early promise, filtering the folk rock psychedelica of the late 60s and early 70s through an isolationist lens forged in and around the city of Perth in Western Australia.

As remarkable as that first EP was in terms of textures and text based lyrical imagery, their 2010 debut album Innerspeaker remarkably pushed things even further forward. Built upon a set of guitar and voice heavy song structures informed by the likes of The Beatles, Love, Jimi Hendrix and their peers, Parker reframed the faded detritus of that era of giants through a modern eye, creating an evocative love generation music for the now, and probably triggering the odd acid flashback along the way.

On Lonerism, their second full length album, Parker retains the guitar heavy, wavy psychedelic motifs stamped so heavily on Innerspeaker, folding liberal doses of pictorial synthesiser sounds into the mix. In the process, he expands the super8 home video style aesthetics of their summery, outdoor soundworld, opening an impressive array of new doorways for Tame Impala and their listeners to tumble though. As with their previous releases, Parker played, recorded, sung and produced virtually every note on the record, calling on small dashes of assistance from drummer Jay Watson and audio engineer Dave Fridmann (known for his work with The Mercury Rev's and The Flaming Lips). Alongside this, some of the doors pushed wider open include musical gestures towards the influence of The Flaming Lips' Wayne Cohen and the solo catalogue of cult musician Todd Rundgren.

Kicking off with the time stretched drums and alien invader B movie synth noises of 'Be Above It' , Parker floats us through a flurry of beautiful sonics, letting songs crash over us like intermittent waterfalls. High points include dreamy numbers 'Apocalypse Dreams', 'Mind Mischief', 'Feels Like We're Going Backwards' and the driving forceful rhythms of 'Elephant', slipping up slightly towards the fail end of the album. Happily though, regardless of the standard of songs, something which comes through loud and clear is an emerging unique voice, one which while informed by their existing set of references points refuses to drift into complete pastiche.

Fittingly the most impressive overall quality about Lonerism is literally given away in its title. Letting his ethereal and cathartic voice sit just behind the drums and guitars like a ghost, he sings from a detached distance, meditating on the view of an outsider looking in. Serving a role similar to that of Private Investigator Jon DiFool in Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius' seminal science fiction graphic novel The Incal, Parker's space within Lonerism is that of the eternal observer, the single drop of water that will never become one with the great ocean.


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