Tame Impala are the biggest thing to hit the United States of America since INXS. Colleagues at CMJ festival over the last week made it clear to me that however important I may think Cut Copy, The Presets or hell, even Gotye is in this country, Perth’s psychedelic wunderkinds are the only ones who really matter. It’s funny that I’m in New York talking to foreigners about a band from my own country whose city I still haven’t visited, but that’s all kind of secondary when you hear what Kevin Parker cooked up on Lonerism, a record which has dutifully lived up to its staggeringly listenable predecessor, Innerspeaker and is getting so much love in this town that you wouldn’t even know Kimbra sold out two dates at Webster Hall.
Having missed both the release and subsequent lovefest that undoubtedly occurred in the music media around this record, I got to listen to it the right way; with no background noise. That’s essentially the best way to hear Tame Impala. Sure, everyone loves to pump ‘Solitude Is Bliss‘ at parties and think that they’re being more interesting than that carbon copy paisley shirt they bought from a chain store, but this is a group who benefit from proper ear indulgence. Lonerism may not turn out to be as classic as its brother, but where it definitely trumps it is in the sheer scope of the sound. Apparently Parker recorded most of this himself, between studios in Perth and Paris. That makes sense, because it plays like he went into the studio and sucked up the floating essence of the entire Pacific Ocean.
I don’t know why this particular song has stuck to my brain more than any other on this record, but I’ll hazard a guess that it’s because it’s one of the best written. Be sure: this kind of hazy, overly dense explorative rock is not popular in any other context or market at the moment. We live in the hyper-saturated, 3.5 minute pop song world, and yet somehow this chugging, intelligent and zoned-out piece of music is completely killing it. I know he hates the comparison, but Parker’s finally managed to create the kind of spectacular wonderland of arrangement that The Beatles were leaning to towards the end of their career. And yes, it’s true, he’s never sounded quite so Lennon as right now. And fair enough, really, because it’s becoming increasingly likely that the antisocial studio whiz will end up to be the voice of my generation. It’s why I had no problem playing this song when I visited Strawberry Fields last week in Central Park. This is not even an update of a classic sound, it’s a whole new palate.
Come at my ears and don’t let up until I collapse.
Tame Impala – ‘Apocalypse Dreams’