The truly great songwriters and musicians are the ones who push forward out of their comfort zone. Based on that logic, Kevin Parker of Tame Imapala fame is on track to be one of the great artists of his generation.
Today marks the release of Tame Impala's third studio album, Currents. The album is an unabashed, explorative departure from previous releases. And that seems to be the point. Expanding upon his psychedelic horizons and playing in the face of growing expectations, Parker, who plays nearly every instrument on Tame Impala's studio recordings, has created a soulful, musical experience orbiting the theme of profound personal development.
Musically, the album is only mildly evocative of Parker's previous efforts. Opting on many tracks for more '80s synth prominence instead of loud guitars, Parker has crafted more dance-friendly songs. Heavy grooves and overdriven bass contribute to a more mobile, beat driven album. Don't be surprised to hear such tracks as "Reality In Motion" spun soon enough at your local basement club.
Parker, ever lyrically self-aware, addressed this pop-driven shift, an idea that would have seemed unlikely a few years ago. Speaking with NME, Parker discussed the new sound, saying, "we shouldn’t feel guilty for liking types of music that we used to take the piss out of before" and "Now I feel open to trying new things in music that I otherwise would have shut out because they were taboo." The album's opening track, "Let It Happen," seems to both musically and lyrically provide evidence to support these claims.
And while some of the album moves with an upbeat optimism, an equal amount moves slowly, dealing with the melancholic ideas of pain, mistakes, and change. It has been rumored that much of the inspiration for Currents was the result of Parker's break-up with Melody Prochet of the band Melody's Echo Chamber. No song more distinctly supports these rumors than "Eventually." A devastating, bass-heavy ballad, the track's lyrics and musical range create arguably the album's most powerful, lasting effect. On "Yes I'm Changing" Parker again grapples with romantic difficulties, this time the casualty of an imminent rock star future.
There's no future left for you and me
I was holding and I was searching endlessly
But baby, now there's nothing left that I can do so
So don't be blue
There is another future waiting there for you
I saw it different, I must admit
I caught a glimpse, I'm going after it
In addition to both the bleeding-heart and danceable tracks on the album, Currents also contains, "Gossip," a track which calls to mind instrumental passages in the vein of Pink Floyd.
Parker also seems to have also drawn on new-age R&B sounds. The track "From a Past Life" is reminiscent of the stylings of artists like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.
Currents is a big, sprawling take on metamorphosis, heartbreak, and hope for the future. And as Tame Impala reminds us on this precisely crafted LP, these themes are all mutually dependent.
For Tame Impala's latest music, news, and tour dates, check out their Zumic artist page.