There are a lot of bands out there today trying to recreate sounds from decades past. Whether it be aiming to recreate the stilted synth of the 80s, the lo-fi simplicity of the late 50s and early 60s, or the early 90s indie rock distortion. One of the most common victims of this resuscitation of rock Gods is the psychedelic rock of the late 60s with bands like Olivia Tremor Control, The Amazing, and Brightback Morning Light relying heavily upon ancient equipment scoured from pawn shops and auction houses. While bands like these have been able to recreate a sound from the past, Tame Impala have taken the psychedelic genre and flipped it on its head.
On their first album Innerspeaker it seemed like they were just another band that was into the hobby of refurbishing old sounds, but with their latest release, Lonerism, the band has found a way to cut from the same psychedelic fabric while still creating something completely original and exhilarating. Many of the instruments used on Lonerism are lifted from that same mystical pawn shop mentioned earlier, yet they manipulate these amps and instruments in ways that bands like The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane couldn’t have ever imagined.
Lonerism is undoubtedly an album of the 21st century with its innovative use of effects and digital machination, but the melodies, guitars, pianos, and basslines are all lifted directly from a pot filled room of the 60s. Kevin Parker’s voice often beckons the ghost of John Lennon, yet the connection to Mr. Walrus goes beyond a good impression. Parker, much like Lennon, is a puppet master in the studio, manipulating sounds sonically and creating layer upon layer of swirling tracks that all somehow mesh as one powerful wave of music. Tame Impala resemble what I imagine Lennon would sound like if he had access to today’s studio technology.
“Mind Mischief” (Lennon- is that you?):
It’s probably misleading to label Lonerism as a psychedelic throw-back album. It is an electronic/dance album at its core. I often find much of what’s being done in the electronica genre these days to be monotonous and uninspired. Too often it’s a race to see who can sound more futuristic/robotic (it’s my only explanation for this whole dub-step thing). Tame Impala, on the other hand, create dance anthems that set their sites on the past, culling the instruments, melodies, and harmonies of the past and carrying them forward into a new millennium.
60s electronica- “Endors Toi”:
As memorable and catchy as many of the songs are on Lonerism, you will have a hard time trying to pinpoint an actual chorus, let alone pre-chorus, on the album. The songs don’t follow any prescribed formula, instead allowing the tracks to swirl and evolve in whatever direction suits their whimsy. This is an album that was recorded as a means of discovery. It isn’t encumbered by studio execs or the dream of making it on the radio waves. It isn’t attempting to follow the norms. It’s an album recorded in a bedroom far, far away in Australia, and it’s as adventurous and uninhibited as you’d imagine.