Tame Impala’s Lonerism: An Enthralling Psych-Rock Odyssey

Tame Impala's Lonerism (2012)

Chances are you haven’t heard Lonerism, and it’s equally likely you don’t know what a Tame Impala is (they’re a band). When the group released the album in 2012, it’s reach was limited to the hippest Pitchfork-literate indie-rock fans. The band, and the album, deserves a wider audience.

Though I discovered Lonerism only a month ago, it’s easily one of the freshest indie releases in some time; an occasionally joyous,  other times lonely, always enthralling listen. Though the band consists of five members, the record was written and recorded solely by frontman Kevin Parker. The Perth, Australia native worked on the album for two years, almost driving himself “insane” and becoming a bit of a loner.

For listeners, it was worth it. Parker’s creation is a psych-rock odyssey that blends the classic sounds of Revolver-era Beatles with the modern, synth-y psych of MGMT and The Flaming Lips, and then shapes those influences into a trip that feels nostalgic and familiar, yet vibrantly new and boldly now.

Opener “Be Above It” makes clear this is a more confident, fully-formed creation than their solid 2010 debut, Innerspeaker. Parker whispers the mantra “Gotta be above it” over and over, while echoey electronic sounds fluctuate and an uneasy drum beat repeats. When he sings “And I know I gotta be above it now”, a wave of awe washes over you, along with an odd sense of relief. It’s a bold, epic opening statement, but one Parker follows up with equally exciting, original sounds.

This is one of those rare releases that is without a single bad track (some songs, admittedly, drag). While “Endors Toi” melds “woah-wah” synthesisers with static drum fills, “Elephant” is a garage shuffle that stops and starts and sounds like it’s been around forever (in a good way). Almost every song is filled with unique noises, cryptic lyrics, and stunning stereo production. There’s a few, like “Be Above It”, that stand above the rest. One of them is the surprisingly gorgeous “Apocalypse Dreams”, which builds to a chorus of almost magical grandeur. The other is “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” which feels like the kind of song we’ll be listening to for years to come. Like the other tracks, the lyrics (which seem to be about a relationship that’s going nowhere) are hard to decipher. But that only adds to the mystical, chilled-out beauty of the song, and the album. This is one band we’ll be debating, discovering, and obsessing over for a long time.

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Drummer Boy

One Comment

  • Papa said:
    November 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Your description has tempted me to actually listen to their music, which you are entirely correct in noting that chances are that not many have heard them (or heard of them). I will let you know once I have.

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