Tame Impala – Lonerism
The slow-burning success of multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker’s first album under his Tame Impala guise, 2010’s Innerspeaker, has helped to thrust this follow-up well into the ‘highly anticipated’ category. If this added pressure has had any detrimental effect on Parker, you wouldn’t know it from listening to Lonerism – which is as dreamily spaced-out and brilliantly psychedelic as its predecessor, and even outshines that acclaimed debut in places.
Trippy, blissful psychedelic-rock created in a stoners bedroom in Perth, Australia has the ring of ‘cliche’ about it. But the Tame Impala brand of psychedelia is so much more than that, and on Lonerism it borders on the genius. This is not the cartoon-flowers kind of cliche psychedlia adorned with peace-signs and the like – this is dreamy, introspective and gritty psych-rock more in the style of Pink Floyd and The Beatles (before they took it a bit too far with yellow submarines and stuff). As well as all the swirling phasers and speaker-panning melodies drifting out of Lonerism, there’s an undercurrent of bleakness and tension. Album opener ’Be Above It’ sets the introspective and troubled tone with twitchy drums, ominous whispering vocals and Parker’s defensive lyrics: “And I know that I gotta be above it now / And I know that I can’t let them bring me down”.
’Why Won’t They Talk To Me’ wears its dark, soul-searching sentiments on its sleeve – “Lonely old me / Whoops-a-daisy / I thought I was happy / Ah, why won’t they talk to me?” – and wraps them in so many echo and phaser effects that, by rights, it should sound like a complete mess. It doesn’t though, it sounds absolutely amazing – which is not just down to Parker’s instrumental and production skills, but also his growing songwriting talents. These are put to best use on the amazing ’Apocalypse Dreams’ and the even more amazing ’Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ – both of which I’ve more or less had on repeat all week, and they still sound fresh and exciting.
Already, Tame Impala’s songwriting has drawn comparisons with John Lennon. Not the circular-sunglass-wearing Liam Gallagher-style John Lennon, but the restlessly creative, self-critical, totally immersive and captivating John Lennon. If that sounds like too high a compliment, it’s probably because it is – but take the time to listen to Lonerism, and in particular the epic middle section that includes ’Music To Walk Home By’, ’Why Won’t They Talk To Me’, ’Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’, ’Keep On Lying’ and ’Elephant’ and the Lennon comparisons won’t seem too far-fetched.