In the realm of internationally acclaimed Australian bands, Tame Impala is unique. The product really of one man Kevin Parker, the band (when he uses one on tour or the studio) produces a unique mix of psychedelic pop with indie rock in such a way as to sound contemporary. While 2015’s Currents was their most successful yet, Lonerism, may actually be the better record for those who prefer their pop psychedelica to be more focused. Recorded 3 years before, it’s a more cohesive collection of songs with occasionally strong rhythms and melodies.
The sunny skies and warm beaches of Perth Australia have been home to many bands ranging from the obscure Eurogliders to INXS. Despite the diversity, the ones able to make a stake in the US market have been some variation of pop, however weird the Australian variant was. Perhaps the vast diversity of the music scene has played apart in Kevin Parker’s broad influences. It’s almost like hearing the Beach Boys in a world where California was traded for the beaches of Western Australia and all the odd ball cultural juxtapositions that come with it. Maybe that would explain the shifts in rhythms and melodies in Lonerisim. It’s as if a child with ADD colored music with no concept of staying within the lines of a genre.
The kitchen sink approach to musical influences has made a standout album in this case. For one, odd rhythms backed by some interesting beats could pass some parts of Lonerism for borderline dance music. The opening of “Be Above It” combines an raw aggressive drum line with funky electronics (complete with Beatlesque vocals). That kind of quirkiness persists throughout. The mystery that comes with psychedelic music in general is made bright and catchy with pop melodies and the occasional electronic sound treatment in the form of keyboard rifts or other noises.
Some of the melodies sound vaguely familiar. The wonderful “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is another very Beatalesque track and was something of a small hit for the band on the US Alternative rock charts. Apparently Pablo Ruiz thought it sounded too familiar and filed a lawsuit for plagiarism.
While some of Lonerisim might sound familiar, I have to give the band props for creating yet another variant of the indie-pop-psycheldia sound. Like Grizzly Bear or Department of Eagles, Tame Impala has that lush spooky sound that recalls the best of late ’60s psychedelic rock while consoling the youngsters with sweet pop melodies.