Mind Mischief: Tame Impala

Tame Impala is the brainchild of Kevin Parker. He almost functions as a one-man-band in playing most of the instruments on the band’s album Lonerism save the contributions of Jay Watson and Dominic Simper. Live performances include two other musicians, to complete the sonic landscape that is Tame Impala. According to the cover, the album was recorded “at home” over the course of two years (2010-2012).

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

If someone were to combine the sounds of Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and sprinkle in a dash of Moog keyboards, the resulting noise would be something like Tame Impala. I snagged a used copy of the Australian band’s newest release at my local record store. The album art has a decidedly retro feel with its light-leaked film photograph-centric art direction, making the jacket on first glance appear to have shelf wear.

“Psychedelic guitar-driven chamber-pop” is a start in beginning to describe the complexity of Lonerism. The dreamy feel of the vocal harmonies deliver the album’s lyrical musings about love, relationships, and the everyday grind, “In the morning you’ll find real life was such a grind. Off I go, day is done where a new one’s just begun” (in “Endors Toi”). Throughout the journey of the album, the singer seems to have an inner battle with fears of his fraudulence being found out. The universal lyrical themes make the album easy to relate to and connect with. This is evident in “Music to Walk Home By” with the line, “I’m playing a part as somebody else while trying so hard to be myself. I just need to hear somebody say that this will all make sense someday.”

Despite the somewhat heavy nature of the subject matter, the album remains upbeat and playful in its own fuzzy psychedelic way. Stand-out tracks include “Endors Toi” with drums reminiscent of the Jimi Hendrix Experience; “Apocalypse Dreams,” what the love child of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper might sound like; “Music To Walk Home By” with its candid lyrics; and “Elephant,” a playful narrative about a man using the metaphor of an elephant. While the rest of the album uses first-person narrative, “Elephant” uses third-person and tells a story which has the carnival feel of “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” from the Beatles’ masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The introspective nature of the songs written in first person are nice, but it would be interesting to hear what other creative stories Kevin Parker can dream up.

Lonerism is a great album to spin both for background noise and concentrated listening with its complex arrangements and lyrical surprises. I recommend it for fans of 1960s psychedelic rock. Pick up their record and go see them live as they are on tour with Oklahoma’s own Flaming Lips!

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