Tame Impala‘s brand new LP, Currents, just hit the racks last week and it’s garnering more buzz than your crazy cat-lady neighbor’s vibrator on Valentine’s Day. You might even catch that kid who lives upstairs and blasts Wiz Khalifa all day asking you, “Have you heard that new Tame yet, bro?” However, like most things that are pumped out of the galactic hype machine, there seems to be a large degree of disagreement and mixed opinion surrounding the release.
Some claim the album is the greatest thing to happen to the world since Bagel Bites went public, while others deem it’s the worst thing Kevin Parker has ever put out. Well, we must not forget that these are all merely opinions, my friends … and speaking of, here is mine (via cleverly thought out Emoji representation).
1. “Let it Happen”
“Let It Happen” is perhaps Tame Impala’s strongest album opener to date. Anyone that is familiar with Tame Impala’s body of work should know that Kevin Parker has an uncanny ability to steer a song through a shroomy hyperspace into strange unfamiliar galaxies, while still harnessing the power to pull you right back through the wormhole into a poppy wonderland of ecstasy. I’ve done a lot of drugs, you guys.
The emojis here follow the song’s storyline: From dancey AF to ‘wut?’ to ‘waiiiit a sec’ to ‘OH SHIT’ and, finally, ending with praise hands. You get the picture.
The second track offers quite an interesting contrast to the first, considering its slow-tempo’d nature and much-too-quick minute-and-a-half of airtime. The drowsy, atmospheric synth sounds invades your ears to take control of your brainwaves; serving as a sort of psychedelic depressant that induces an out of body experience. It’s like being on a cloud staring down into your lifeless body as a friend pokes at your chest saying “Is there something wrong, man?” But before you know it, it’s fading away and you are coming back to it, feeling cheated.
Again, me + drugs = a lot.
3. “The Moment”
The instrumentation and lyrical content seem to fit each other perfectly in this song; living in a conflicting head-space that captures the dynamic between a gloomy epiphany of impermanence and the powerful thirst to thrive. I can’t help but think of the radical acceleration of time we tend to feel as we age. The thought of waking up tomorrow as an unaccomplished, senile 85 year-old, naked and yelling into your left shoe as if it’s a telephone is what this makes me think of. “The Moment” seems to represent the joyous feeling of distinguishing that panic by deciding to take advantage of every moment. Deep bro, deeeeep.
4.”Yes I’m Changing”
It’s no secret that Currents is largely inspired by Kevin’s recent break-up with his mega-babe girlfriend and singer of psychedelic dream pop outfit, Melody’s Echo Chamber. “Yes I’m Changing” functions as an new age ’80s power ballad equipped with some real on-point Cyndi Lauper-style instrumentation and seems to introduce the resilient break-up theme to the listener. I can imagine the track blasting from my bedroom as a teenage me stares down at the shoebox filled with delicate memories of my former lover, trying to muster the courage to trash that shit while simultaneously crying like a little bitch … then getting a knock at the door followed by a “Is everything ok, sweetie?” met with a sobbing “I’M FINE, MOM! LEAVE ME ALONE!”
Brb while I go swim through a puddle of tears.
Well, friends … Parker got the balls to dump that broad Melody and it’s evident in Track No. 5 (refer to ball emojis). Perfectly placed as a follow-up to “Yes I’m Changing”, “Eventually” manifests the harnessing of the cojones in a powerful way. It’s not a “Fuck you, bitch, it’s over”‘ type song, but more of an “I thought about it boo, and this is best for the both of us” track. The all-too-catchy hook continues to build each time it repeats, ending with a final vigorous explosion as the drums are introduced during the last chorus. CERTIFIED HOOD CLASSIC.
“Gossip” is a trippy interlude in which we have the chance to take a breather from the nasally falsetto vocals and up-beat drumming. Although it’s planted in a definite time of need for the album and shows off some production expertise, it doesn’t really display anything too interesting or memorable. Currents could have used a more drawn-out psychedelic instrumental at this point in the album and it feels a bit lazy as far as Tame Impala interludes go.
7. “The Less I Know, The Better”
The departure from the quintessential Tame Impala sound is undoubtedly palpable at this point in the record and this track continues to use the same formula as most of its predecessors; a catchy bass-driven backbone with dance-friendly drum patterns and dreamy synths … but this time it comes with a funky, mom-friendly disco infusion. The song is undeniably catchy and easily palatable, but it seems to be missing the interesting songwriting direction typically found in Tame Impala’s work (See what I did with the arrows there? Hehe).
8. “Past Life”
It’s story time y’all. “Past Life” is perhaps the most peculiar track on the album, featuring a down-pitched narration that sounds like something Mac DeMarco would include on a song as a joke (In fact, I’m pretty sure he already has). It’s an interesting concept that’s tied into the structure of the song rather well, but it’s just kind of … corny. Nonetheless, Kevin’s gifted production capabilities are quite obvious here and it would probably be an album favorite if executed a bit better. But it wasn’t, so I put a corn emoji in there because I don’t know what the fuck to do.
This one minute, forty-nine second song is definitely another stand-out banger from Currents. It could be longer…but I don’t think it needs to be. The repetition of the quick fire vocal melody creates the perfect ear-candy to instantly stick in your head with a Katy Perry level of effectiveness, but any longer and it might become overly saturated and a bit annoying. The on-the-dime switch from the lo-fi transistor radio sound to bright and shiny is a refreshing trick-up-the sleeve that probably has musicians/producers everywhere thinking “fuck, why didn’t I think of that?” [PS the fish means ‘catchy’ if you haven’t figured that one out yet]
10. “Cause I’m a Man”
“Cause I’m a Man” sounds like the first time I had sex. Jesus H, this one’s got the feels ladies and gentledudes. Though the lyrics are rather helpless and self-deprecating, it has an infectiously romantic feel that you can’t deny if you tried. As the baseline bounces and shifts I imagine a young Jewish boy on the day of his Barmitzvah getting ready in the mirror and fantasizing about smoothly seducing his crush in to giving him a quick handy before the reception. Parker’s vocals melt over the subtle synthesizers and catchy guitar riffs in a exemplary way that makes this song easily a top-contender for best pop song of the year. But, you already knew that since this time has been on the airwaves and around the internet for months now. Anyway, sex is cool. I’m a man.
11. “Reality in Motion”
Again with the new formula. Though, very well executed and deliciously poppy, I find myself yearning for something a little different by Track 11.We could have used a mean, distorted Eric Clapton style riff at this point; something like that of “Half Glass Full of Wine”or perhaps a bit of songwriting trickery as demonstrated in the album opener. It’s not a bad song by any means, but its just a little late in the record for more of the same.
The psychedelic production tricks are really the only notable elements in this song. Besides being trippy, this track seems to fall short of most the others on the album. “Love/Paranoia” reverts to the same psych-pop recipe, but could use a few extra dashes of salt or cumin or sooomething. Tastin’ like a bowl of white rice up in here … if you need a potty break, I suggest doing during this track.
13. “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”
The album’s closer serves a sort of ‘message to the haters’, if you will, and reawakens the album for a final hurrah. The aggressive, in your face bass line provides a very effective vessel for Kevin’s powerful statements regarding his shift in sound with the release of his new LP. The lyrics show that he is well aware that making such a drastic change in direction for the band will be met with strong resistance by many of his fans, but suggests that he is simply following the direction of his own “current” … RESPECT, DAWG. The production is incredibly intricate and fascinating, while giving us at least one banger we can blare out of our car windows to feel like a bad ass as we drive to Whole Foods.
I’m going to slap a solid 4 out of 5 mushrooms on this beast of a record. It is always refreshing when a good band explores new sounds while retaining their integrity and passion. Definitely a favorite of the year so far.