Album review: Currents by Tame Impala
Since emerging in 2007, Kevin Parker’s one of a kind brainchild that is Tame Impala have blown away critics and fans alike with their ethereal blend of 60s psychedelic rock and dance beats. Having released the gold certified debut Innerspeaker and platinum certified Lonerism respectively, the Australian juggernaut release their third offering, Currents.
Opening with ‘Let It Happen’, the eight minute monster of a track delights us with its rich and creamy vocals and a catchy synth hook. The rhythm section, as always, are impeccable. The drums effortlessly catch offbeat hits and tangle with the melodies perfectly, and compliment the epic string section that emerges halfway into the tune. The bafflingly short ‘Nangs’ follows, which delivers an almost trip hop feel mixed with a grand orchestral motif in the main section. The short track amazes in how much it sucks you in with so little.
It becomes apparent that for the most part, the album has veered more towards a synthesised sound more so than its predecessors thus far, with very little fuzzy guitar work or huge riffs that we may have expected. ‘The Moment’ is built on a simple yet effective keys riff lead by Parker’s angelic vocals, and ‘Eventually’ is another very dreamy, very floaty sounding tune with no guitar at all after the intro. This is by no means a bad thing. In fact, the album benefits from this slight change in style. It feels fresh, and keeps us guessing.
After the neo-soul sounding interlude of ‘Gossip’, Parker has us dancing again with ‘The Less I Know The Better’, with a killer bass riff that drives the song to the max. The lack of ‘Elephant’ like guitar riffs here and on the rest of the album really showcases Parker for the genius he is on other instruments. The bass is unbelievable in its tone, and reminds us how much production quality goes into all his work. The groovy tones continue with the again short but sweet ‘Disciples’, which almost sounds like a Daft Punk song. The catchy hook of the suspended synth chords are carried by the subtle but effective groovy bass and, of course, the untouchable falsetto that features so much.
Second release, ‘Cause I’m A Man’, offers the best of the album so far. Combining the trip shuffle feel of the drums with an irresistible main synth riff and a hauntingly beautiful vocal, the trance effect created rivals My Bloody Valentine or Brian Eno here. The bass is again on top form, and gives the tune an awesome sway in conjunction with the drums. ‘Reality In Motion’ follows it up nicely, with a similar energetic push coming from a synth driven coda and the familiar lull of Parker’s rich melodies. The second half of the album definitely seems to be more energetic and uptempo than the more dreamy and electronic feel of the first half.
The push/pull feel of ‘Love/Paranoia’ once again returns to the trip hop, synthesised soul feel, and even features some rare guitar licks in between vocals. Currents draws to a close with ‘New Person, Same Old Misakes’. The eerie feel of the dirty bass hook is powerful, and contrasts starkly with the pure vocals that are layered on top. A mid song break features some jangly guitar that has not made an appearance until now, and the grit of the main riff plays us out over some classic 60s sounding synth leads.
Currents was not the album that everyone was expecting by any stretch of the imagination. The simple yet catchy riffs that featured so much on the previous releases are what made us love this otherworldly act. However, the album succeeds in proving the band to be more than a one trick pony. It takes a lot of balls and, more importantly, talent to ditch the guitar riff for a more electronic and pop based sound and still produce some top quality tunes. Kevin Parker, you are a freak, and we love you for it.
Review by Finn O’Reilly