Somewhere between the fog of poor air quality, haste and embarrassment I write you from the large hiatus in blog posts. I certainly hope I can make clear the ingenuity of Tame Impala’s ability relating to the human condition with their honest lyrics and their bold sound. Tame Impala, AKA Kevin Parker (he writes, plays and arranges virtually all of the music), has been my musical beacon since I found him in 2010. Currents, their third full-length album narrated and brought light to dark places in 2015 and now into 2016 for me, personally.
On a broader scale, Currents completely re-instated the importance of full-album listening–the journey from start to finish, allowing us to relate to the narrative throughout phases in our lives. “A soundtrack to life’s turbulent flow,” as described by the band’s website. Let’s start at the beginning:
It was springtime last year, the ripping guitar solo at the end of “Let It Happen” reflected the renewed energy bursting out of my being when the snow had begun to melt; I hopped on a food truck, Poutine Your Mouth, that was going to Coachella, in Indio, CA. I remember that brilliant stampede to the main stage I took with my coworkers to catch the end of Tame Impala’s newly released song “Let It Happen” as we got off work, determined to catch that guitar that spoke to me even more so than band leader Kevin Parker’s lyrics:
All this running around
I can’t fight it much longer
Something’s trying to get out
And it’s never been closer.
I’m instantly reminded of what music does at its very best: transcend time, forward and backward. On one hand you see into the excitement of the potent future with the synthesizers and drums, and on the other hand the reverb and the layering of vocals and the guitar makes you feel like you’re in the ’70s in a sunny field full of flowers, dancing around barefooted. The psychedelic rock style, and how eerily Kevin Parker sounds like John Lennon works well for the Australian-born musician; Tame Impala’s won many ARIA awards (essentially Australia’s Grammys), and this Monday (Feb. 15), we’ll find out if he won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album which Currents has been nominated for.
The other thing you should know about Kevin Parker is that he’s a total loner. Cue “Solitude is Bliss” from the first album, Innerspeaker (2010). I mean that in the most flattering of ways; Parker writes, records, sings, and plays all the parts for Tame Impala. Kevin Parker essentially is the Tame Impala. Only on tour does he share the stage with other musicians. “There’s a party in my head, and no one is invited,” the lyrics of “Solitude is Bliss” inform us.
Parker is a gem of an example of the power of what one person can do if they take the time and patience to bring their vision all the way through to completion, even if it takes a long, long time. In 2015, Currents was the first full-length album Parker had put out since 2012. This time his sound indulged more on the melancholy side with songs such as “Eventually” and “New Person Same Mistakes.”
“It feels like murder to put your heart through this. I know that I always said I would never hurt you. This is the very last time I’m going to do it.”
“Wish I could turn you back into a stranger. ’Cause if I was never in your life, you wouldn’t have to change it all. But I know that I’ll be happier, and I know you will too.”
Pitchfork suggests Currents is a breakup album, but I’d rather progress one step past the breakup and say it’s a breakthrough album; The next step of self transformation and reclamation of independence after a parting of ways.
The song of the week, “Yes I’m Changing” ends with a solid mantra for the darker times of the year, whether your narrative really does include a break-up or not, and when spring is just on the horizon, and the urge to block out and hide from the world sloughs off and out of your consciousness;
“There’s a world out there, and it’s calling my name
And it’s calling yours too”
Yes I’m Changing
Sometimes an album, any album, from start to finish can help you still see clearly through the ebbs and flows of life. Insert your own narrative, and sometimes let the artist embellish it a little, to keep the faith by seeing the beauty in the highs and lows, and continue moving forward.
Next week, we’ll be switching to some female vocals, with Anna of the North.