Tame Impala, the brainchild of Australian psychedelic-rock virtuoso Kevin Parker, is back with their third record, Currents. The album, released July 17th, is absolutely brilliant. An evolutionary step musically, Currents takes the raw grit from 2012’s Lonerism while adapting a heavier aptitude for the dreamy beats and poignant imagery. Heavily produced, this pressing walks a thin line between dance album and backroom lounge.
The thirteen tracks, just as predecessor Lonerism, are rich in vivid imagery. The sweeping keyboard washes and drumbeat driven tracks give the album the support to maintain its educated execution. While truly putting the tame in Tame Impala, Parker is able to transcend mellow and create a piece that is relaxed, layered, and intelligent. This is not lazy. In fact, the nuances in effects are so staggering throughout the nearly hour-long drama-laden opera that it’s easy to miss the tales being told; stories of heartbreak, regret, and personal demise. Parker has hung up the guitar almost entirely and set out to create a piece where he puts music to his words rather than lyrics to a melody.
The seven-minute opening opus “Let It Happen” is a blend of college marching band and their horns firing off on all cylinders with brushstrokes of early Air, painting a picture of a dystopian world in 2099 as imagined in 1981. “All this running around / I can’t fight it much longer / Something’s trying to get out / And it’s never been closer / If my ticker fails / Make up some other story / And if I never come back Tell my mother I’m sorry.” The song concludes with the most wonderful effect, the blissful beauty that is the sound of a CD skipping at that perfect moment causing you to think, “this would be GREAT as a beat”. Parker has created and captured this and it is outstandingly fresh and creatively confounding.
By the third track, “The Moment”, the mood lifts sonically if not a bit personally as well. Parker soulfully croons, “In the end, its gone, and there’s nothing left to do / But I’m still not certain just how I’m gonna feel / I only know in the moment.” Hardly ambiguous in motive or message, “Yes I’m Changing” speaks of life passing along, relationships ending, and helplessness that leads way to pseudo optimistic outlook of “now there’s nothing left that I can do so don’t be blue.”
Continuing within the vein of down-tempo 80’s electropop, the album rolls along celebrating the love that once was and preaches acceptance. As the tracks bleed together, the uplifting disco beats blend with fuzzy reverb heavily disguising the somber emotional tone. (See “Past Life” or “’Cause I’m A Man”)
Currents is a breakup album. We once again are shown that heartbreak and the sheer honesty stemming from vulnerability and strife of the soul prove to be the greatest building blocks creatively to compose such a moving masterpiece of art. The arc of the album circumvents pain and acceptance, loss and growth. Musically, the album’s range is astounding. A self-proclaimed introvert, Parker has exposed himself to the world, divulging fault, fears, pain, and longing. Having created one of the year’s most powerful records, Parker and Tame Impala have solidified their place among the best of the best.