This is when I will admit, upfront, that I am bound to miss a lot of names here. As we shift our focus to Australia’s indie scene, I will admit that I didn’t quite know where to start, in part because this was my entry point to the country’s music, after over a decade of listening, on and off, to Triple J. The radio station is an important factor in unearthing (yes, that is a pun) a lot of Aussie talent from the underground scenes of the capital cities, and later the whole nation, and bringing them to the forefront, just as these bands began to explore all the new styles coming out of the US and the UK. Outside of the pub rock that the more prominent rock bands of the time were peddling, the influence of punk and its offshoots were moving a lot of bands to directions nobody had imagined before.
We’re closing up shop for another year, which means our obligatory look at the year that was – and, like in the past two years, it’s in the form of ten songs, arranged alphabetically by artist. And it’s been an interesting year, indeed. Pop music was, once again, no longer a guilty pleasure. The much-anticipated comeback of guitar music did not happen, but we had some genre-pushing, if not outright weird, alternative anyway. We’ve seen new acts make a legitimate splash, but it wasn’t for the sake of a new voice. We’ve seen old acts make triumphant returns, but nostalgia wasn’t the biggest thing. Things have not settled down to the way people want it to be (and that could mean anything depending on who you ask) but things have never looked this good in recent years either. It is weird. Interesting, but weird.
Many times I’ve reviewed albums that are best described as that artist’s “pop record”. Tame Impala’s track record in this is, well, hard to pin down. Sure, Kevin Parker and gang have always stuck to the psychedelic side of things, but there’s always a vague sense of groove and grind on their songs, which explains why InnerSpeaker and Lonerism are compelling listens. Yes, I’m saying Currents is not much different, and yet it is. The build-up is the same; the dynamics are, too. The inspiration’s shifted further to the dancier side of things: there’s a jitter and jump that isn’t completely there on Lonerism, and you can really shake your hips to this one. It’s a weird experience, this. You know it isn’t much different, and yet it feels like it. You get a good funky vibe and the occasional TV theme tune riff, too (that would be “Disciples”) and yet it is very much a Tame Impala release. Credits to the gang for pulling that off – it just makes it hard to really think about. So let’s just shake our hips, then? [NB] | 4/5
“Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by the PS22 Chorus | Finally writing about those cool kids from Staten Island, after so many covers from them (and helping out Passion Pit in this song), because while I was watching their cover of this standout from Tame Impala’s latest release Lonerism did I realize that children’s choirs and Kevin Parker’s scuzzy take on psychedelia mix well. Or, at least children do. Case in point: that Melody’s Echo Chamber song with a French baby babbling about.
Kevin Parker and his little gang is back with an album that, inevitably yet surprisingly, sounds more epic than its predecessor. Tame Impala’s Lonerism builds on what InnerSpeaker achieved: fifty minutes of warped, trippy, magical goodness that might seem to be too much. There are new things to hear – Parker pursued a poppier route on this, which makes for a more accessible record – and yet there are old things, like the way some songs just seem to go on and on (“Keep On Lying”, I’m looking at you). I don’t blame the songs themselves, but I found myself looking for a breather (and that literally comes at the closer, “Sun’s Coming Up”). But for what it’s worth, Lonerism proves that Tame Impala didn’t just get lucky the first time around . Now, let’s see what they do for their third album. | 4/5