Tame Impala do not sound like a throwback band, they sound as if the 1960s and 70s bled into each other and never ended, that style of music never going out of fashion. In that world The Beach Boys’ ‘Feel Flows’ is the Psychedelic Pop hit it deserved to be, and numerous musicians managed to experiment with new studio techniques before acid fried their brains. Tame Impala are the logical continuation of early Psychedelia, John Lennon with pro-tools, they make a brand of Psychedelic Rock that has an obvious reverence for its influences, with no caveats about updating them.

By ‘they’ I mean Kevin Parker, in the studio Tame Impala exists almost entirely as a Parker solo project. Seeing him writing, recording and performing almost the entirety of their second studio album: Lonerism, and even snapping the photo which became the album sleeve. His solitary actions are represented in the perfectly apt album name. The albums back story conjures the romantic image of man alone desperately seeking the perfect sound, similar in more than name only to Kevin Shields.

Parker’s lone voice is duplicated to form a hushed choir on opener “Be Above It” and ringing synths invite you to slip into the albums wash.  It’s one of the many vocal tricks heard throughout the album, his voice is often double tracked and rarely remains in a single channel. It bounces and flows freely through the songs. He sings the melody of sweet pop song “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” with a bouncy energy that climaxes with stuttery synth guitar that is more an abstract spillage of notes than a guitar solo. The distinction between keys and strings is increasingly blurry within Lonerism. “Keep on Lying” features two guitar solos where you can actually tell that it’s still a string instrument, but they do however bookend an extended synth jam that you would swear a full band were playing, its bass groove is an album highlight. The jam is akin to the chunky synth inflected guitar riffs found in “Mind Mischief” and lead single “Elephant”.

The self imposed solitary has taken its toll on Parker, midway through the album he mournfully sings the titular line of “Why Won’t They Talk to Me” and when he states: “I don’t really care about it anyway”, it’s hard to believe him. Lonerism dwells on the lonely aspect of music, painting it as an art form that drowns out conversation, and that is best enjoyed with zero distractions. The experience of listening to an album on headphones is especially isolating, and it’s likely that the album is mixed with the intention of it being listen to this way, evidenced by song title “Music to Walk Home By”.

There are hooks and memorable moments threaded into the album, the sudden mid-song silence and distant Sitar or Sitar-like solo of “Apocalypse Dreams” make the song. Parker has as excellent ear for pop. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is his most brazen and successful attempt, but his transformation of the wordy phrase “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” into a singable melody is most impressive.

Lonerism is album that is just fun to be within. It’s a thrill to fade into the sound-scape and realise that it makes the world more beautiful when you listen to it to.

5/5

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