Tame Impala climbed to the top of the genre by adding electronic production techniques to what a lot of people felt was a call-back to the 60s and 70s psych-rock, though you’d be hard pressed to call previous albums like Lonerism revivalist as it represented a clear push away from Kevin Parker and the gang’s influences.
Currents is another step forward for the Australian band, and with this step one clear thing is left behind: guitars (synthesizers are the preferred instrument choice on this record). This kind of genre-changing switch-up is rarely seen in the psychedelic genre, and it’s pretty clear that this idea of reformation and transformation is a key theme through the album, not just on a musical level, but also on a personal one too. Parker’s pretty blunt in explaining this too once you see tracks called “Yes I’m Changing” and “New Person Same Old Mistakes”. Almost every track is filled with romantic despair. Currents is pretty much a break-up album at its core, but it’s definitely not a conventional one – it’s more observational than judgemental, more exploratory and a self-examination than just bitching.
That’s not to say that you haven’t got catchy songs on this album – the electronic noise that precedes the heavily distorted main riff of “Eventually” is a perfect set up to sucker-punch people who aren’t expecting it(since there’s nothing of that kind of weight in any of the previous tracks), the synths droning to a crescendo before Parker comes in. The idea of solitude creeps in again as Parker sings about the end of a relationship, a relationship which creeps up on him again in the following track “Past Life”, a heavy fingersnap beat sandwiched by Parker’s pitch-shifted monologues which come across as almost narcissistic.
“Well, somewhere between a lover and a friend – It was different back then – Surreal, poetic so I’d say, like a bizarre chick flick with a confusing end”
Something to credit is just how many genres this album covers – after listening for a while you simply don’t know what to expect track after track, tracks like “The Less I Know the Better” will have you thinking that Parker’s holding onto his to roots of guitar based tunes, and “The Moment” definitely has “Elephant” like vibes, but then you realise that the album opened with “Let It Happen”, an almost 8-minute synth adventure that sent many Beatles-based Tame Impala fans running for the hills when dropped – think more Daft Punk than Beatles. Psychedelic, experimental, electronic (obviously), rock, R&B, soul, it’s all here. What’s more, these genres are explored with great talent too, one need only look at the short interlude track “Gossip”.
Even though Parker envisioned this more dance-based album being played in clubs, I urge anyone who wants to give it a proper a listen to just plug in, sit down, close your eyes, and just go.
This article was written by Mo Hafeez