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It would be easy for Tame Impala to become pigeonholed to one particular sound. The project’s two previous albums—Innerspeaker and Lonerism—have both featured heavy use of guitars and fuzz with Kevin Parker’s Lennon-esque voice seeping into the mix, establishing Tame Impala to be the psychedelic group of the moment. I mean, “Elephant” paid for half of Kevin Parker’s house (supposedly). However, Parker is not one to rest on his laurels. Currents is a different and transitional album for Tame Impala, in that it is unabashedly a pop album.
Perhaps it’s Parker’s involvement with Mark Ronson’s latest album, Uptown Special, but in any event, Parker has learned to write hooks and pop songs. An obvious example is “The Less I Know The Better”. This track, like many others on Currents, is virtually devoid of the fuzzy guitars that previously became staples of the Tame Impala sound, and replaces them with massive synths, creating a sort of new-school disco vibe. Moreover, “The Less I Know…” is an out and out pop track, featuring some of Parker’s dorkiest lyrics yet, as we hear a tale of emotional vacancy and unrequited love, based around “Heather” and “Trevor”. Parker exudes a goofy charm, and is certainly breaking new ground for Tame Impala. A lot of the tracks on Currents—“The Moment” and “Eventually” in particular—are in a similar vein, featuring huge synths and basslines, coupled with simple but effective lyrics and catchy melodies. In addition to this, Currents does feature what is—arguably—Tame Impala’s most adventurous track yet, in the form of the seven and a half minute opener, “Let It Happen”. This track has everything Tame Impala is renowned for: driving drums, Parker’s soothing falsetto, and great riffs—whether that’s on a synth and/or a guitar.
Parker is certainly brave, not only for starting one of the more heavily-anticipated albums of the year with a seven and a half minute song, but for making a psych-pop album that stands as a new and unique statement amidst what is so far an impeccable discography. Currents is certainly one of my favourite albums of the year thus far, and it bodes well for the progression of Tame Impala going forward.