As the main drummer, bassist, keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and producer on all of Tame Impala’s recordings Kevin Parker seems to hold unquestioned dominion over his neo-psychedelic brainchild Tame Impala. The band’s debut LP, Innerspeaker, showcased Parker’s eerily Lennon-like vocals as well as his ability to craft songs resembling those of legends like The Beatles and Pink Floyd not only in terms of style but also quality. However, his group’s latest effort, Lonerism, tends to highlight dense layers of synths atop the formerly prevalent effects-driven guitars, yielding a unique if not improved result.
The opener, “Be Above It,” features a mesmerizing chant of the eponymous phrase throughout much of the song, along with wall-of-sound guitars that resonate throughout the slightly empty space of the verses. The influence of fellow acid-rockers The Flaming Lips is clear. Their influence can be heard in “Mind Mischief,” which is centered on a brightly harmonized riff reminiscent of post-Yoshimi Lips and Revolver-era Beatles.
Songs like the bleak loner-idyll “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?” represent the record’s brief peaks of mediocrity. Echo-drenched production, multilayered vocals, and pervasively moody synths serve as stand-ins for proper song writing. The repetitive refrains and “aah-aahs” soon overstay their welcome. On the other hand, fans who find themselves turned off by these stylistic changes may find solace in “Elephant,” which is composed of sinisterly crunchy guitar tones, fills that dance around the scales and the most heavily throbbing riffs on any Tame Impala song.
Overall, Lonerism is definitely not a step up for Tame Impala, but it’s hardly a sophomore slump either. Parker took a risk by going a slightly different route that produced a fresh, albeit less-than-memorable, result. This record may not be the band’s magnum opus, but it is full of often-rich soundscapes that are worth several listens from any avid psychedelic rocker.
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