We are controlled by time and so too, it would appear, are Tame Impala – more specifically Kevin Parker. It is the overarching theme of the Australian group’s fourth LP, the first that has graced our ears in the last five years. Coming in at just under an hour, Kevin Parker and co attempt to unwrap the mystery that is time, the feelings, the thoughts and everything else that comes with it.
Tame Impala are so commonly dubbed as “psych-rockers”, but this album takes a different turn. While we hear Parker’s voice, indistinguishable from the name they have made for themselves, the sounds and styles that accompany are running at a slightly different pace to usual. It seems that the musical palette of the group has expanded, and for the better. Their sound, over the decade that it has existed, has evolved to a mutated mix of 70s psych, pop, electronic and disco rhythms – all clearly evident on the album.
The LP begins with a track aptly named ‘One More Year’, opening up with a Gregorian sounding choir droning the title name. Over the top of a dance floor drum beat, we hear Kevin Parker’s vocals, laden with the reverb and delay we know and love, which is all undercut with a low, bass-ridden synth. The theme of time is heavy from the offset here – “We’ve got a whole year, 52 weeks, 7 days each”, so you know, a whole year of the finite being this album revolves around.
This is mirrored on the last track, ‘One More Hour’, which is the longest on The Slow Rush coming in at 7 minutes 12 seconds. This is a glistening track that is filled with depth, yet somehow feels sparse in places. Perhaps it is the paradox between the hard drums and the solo piano chords that has the potential to make it sound incomplete. This is made up for, in part, however by the strums of acoustic guitar in the last two minutes with a more dreamlike atmosphere being conjured up.
Arguably, the most poignant song on the album, or maybe their whole discography, is the fourth, ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’. The song pays tribute to Parker’s late father who passed in 2009; he sings “Just a boy and a father, what I’d give for another.” This track is reminiscent of their earlier works, the psychedelia seeps in through the cracks of Parker’s open and raw lyrics. This rawness is echoed at the four minute mark, as the song transforms itself into something more simplistic, decorated with a conga beat and keyboard chords.
‘Lost In Yesterday’ features a funky bass riff as Parker harks “eventually terrible memories turn into great ones.” In the third half of the song, we’re reminded to look forward – dabbled over the top of a muted bass are typical noises of the future, electronic synth pushes the song to a new dimension.
The Slow Rush is quintessentially Tame Impala, whilst simultaneously walking down new roads of experimental bliss.