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Much has changed since Tame Impala first emerged with an EP of dusty home recordings in 2008. By and large Kevin Parker’s approach to recording has not, though the sound coming out of his home studio has vastly expanded, as has the number of people anticipating the fruits of his labour. Tame Impala’s third album is titled Currents, and on it Parker addresses a blindingly colourful panorama of transition in the most audacious, adventurous fashion he’s yet to capture on record.
Dense with heady lyrical introspection, musically the most playful, bold and varied Tame Impala record to date, Currents is Parker putting down his weapons and embracing change as the only constant – sonically, thematically, and personally.
Musically, Currents sounds like the work of a player on top of his game and having a blast, Parker indulging his whims and unafraid to dive down the rabbit hole after an idea. Again operating as a one man studio band, Parker’s resultant record calls to mind contemporary hip hop production, Thriller, fried 70s funk, the irreverent playground Daft Punk presented on Discovery, swathes of future pop and emotional 80s balladry, all filtered through a thoroughly modern psychedelic third eye. A genre-bending soundscape fuelled equally by curiosity as it is consciousness, it’s exhilarating new territory for Tame Impala.
Lyrically the record finds Parker in a very different place in 2015 to where he was seven years ago. Transitions in life, relationships, perspectives, mindsets – Currents maps Parker’s evolution through these and finds him a brand new person. In parts of both 2010’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism Tame Impala sounded like a guy on the outer wanting in, now that he’s found himself on the inside Parker’s turned the spotlight in on himself. Stopping to reflect on the road behind, where he finds himself currently, and the road ahead, Currents spans a tumultuous time.
The first track from the record to be unveiled, Let It Happen, is a perfectly encapsulating preview of what lies ahead. Coming in just short of eight minutes, Let It Happen traverses a swag of sonic terrain in its duration. The drums and Parker’s vocal introduction lull the listener with a sense of familiarity, until it all sweeps up into a cosmos once populated only by French robots, with insistent melody, broken machine loops, synthetic orchestration, surfing vocoder and a shredding guitar outro.
Typically, initial Tame Impala recordings saw Parker’s vocal hidden beneath a layer of psychedelic fuzz, drenched in reverb, lyrics ambiguous. Currents finds his voice front and centre, so no bones are made about his intent.
Sketched out in planes, cars, hotels and homes since the completion of Lonerism in 2012, pieced together over the later part of 2014 and early 2015 at home in Fremantle, Western Australia, Currents was written, performed, recorded, produced and mixed by Kevin Parker.
Tame Impala presents Currents, a soundtrack to life’s turbulent flow.