By Scott Daniels
Standing as the fourth album in his genre-bending, psychedelic discography, Tame Impala adopts funk and disco influences to spin The Slow Rush.
Kevin Parker, the mastermind behind Tame Impala, has always worn nostalgia on his sleeve, but it hasn’t been quite as literal until now. The Slow Rush’s theme was inspired by the concept of time.
That time can be defined by the 70s, like the music video for “Lost In Yesterday,” or by Parker’s complicated relationship with his father, talked about on “Posthumous Forgiveness.”
No matter the definition, every track, and the title gives hints that this is an album about looking back and that the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia are purely bittersweet.
This release is five years after Tame Impala’s previous project, Currents. After a trilogy of critically-acclaimed records, The Slow Rush already had a high bar set from audiences.
Being a self-aware perfectionist at heart, however, Parker was able to use these expectations to his advantage by taking a few risks.
For one, the blend of rock and electronic music smoothes and bleeds out even more than prior works, paving greater space for percussion.
Arguably, the grooviest part of the album “Is It True” is accented by the new sounds of bass-line and saxophone, being complemented by the catchiness of the conga drums, a very welcome addition to Tame Impala’s sound.
Parker said in a storyline with Spotify that “Is It True” didn’t fit as a Tame Impala song upon starting it. Later, he realized the album’s vibe wouldn’t be complete without it. With new instrumental additions, that statement holds a lot of merits.
This album takes a well-known band’s direction and shifts it into something funkier, and “Is It True” was a key track during that process.
Although every risk Tame Impala took with The Slow Rush could make or break its sound, Tame Impala isn’t just about sound.
Kevin Parker as a vocalist can be more clearly heard on this album than in any of the band’s other projects. A common criticism of Tame Impala was not being able to understand the lyrics behind its overpowering instrumentation.
This album fixes that problem greatly, but still leaves room for improvement.
On “Posthumous Forgiveness” and “Glimmer” especially, the lyrics can be unrecognizable or even inaudible behind powerful, massive riffs and synths.
Whether or not that effect adds to the stonerism aesthetic Tame Impala is known for is irrelevant when a listener has to discover a song’s meaning through an online lyric sheet.
The best tracks on the album don’t falter under this problem in the slightest.
“Breathe Deeper” is a luxurious and lavish song inspired by Kevin Parker walking around high-end stores under the influence, fittingly. The best lead single, “Lost In Yesterday,” shows how damn near perfect Tame Impala can be with sound mixing and melody.
There’s still a population of people intimidated to check out Tame Impala’s discography because of how consistently successful and unique every song is.
And to those people, The Slow Rush is not a bad place to start, because it is far from a disappointment and, ironic with its themes, gets better on every listen.