'Lonerism' Casts a Hypnotic Spell
The Cynical Listener
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 23:10
Comparing a band to the Beatles is not something to take lightly. It’s rare to read a review calling a new band Beatles-esque because, let’s face it: few bands can replicate their mastery of the pop song, let alone the enormous influence they had on both music and popular culture.
Well folks, your humble reviewer is about to cross the line. I’m going to call a band Beatles-esque. That band is psychedelic pop outfit Tame Impala.
Hailing from Australia, Tame Impala is relatively new to the music scene, having released their first LP “Innerspeaker” back in 2010. This was not your everyday LP, as it received a place on many end-of-the-year lists, including winning Rolling Stone’s album of the year.
“Lonerism,” their latest offering, manages to eclipse their past success by building on their trademark psychedelic sound while moving to a more poppy yet incredibly inventive direction.
Though I’ve been referring to Tame Impala as a group, this is a bit of a misnomer as the songs are primarily written and recorded by one man: Kevin Parker.
Parker, as this solitary style of music-making and the title of “Lonerism” suggests, is a bit of a loner. Most of the songs on this new album, despite their joyful sound, revolve around themes of social isolation.
The cover of “Lonerism” itself suggests a separation from the normal social world. A metal gate separates the viewer from the relaxing crowd within; we the viewers are merely voyeurs of this inaccessible crowd of sunbathers.
Dreams, love and conceptions of the self dominate most of the lyrics: “This could be the day that we push through/It could be the day that all our dreams come true/For me and you/Till we’re at the end of just another day,” Parker pines on the early album epic “Apocalypse Dreams.”
Loner issues of social disconnect also play heavily on songs such as “Music to Walk Home By”: “I guess I’m alright/But they’re all doing so well/What would I give/To be under that spell.” The introspective lyrics provide a sympathetic arm to guide the listener through the lush and hypnotic spell of the instrumentation behind it.
This instrumentation is distinctly psychedelic pop that sometimes strays into harder rock. There have been few bands that have truly pulled off the genre of psychedelic pop since the Beatles, but Tame Impala succeeds with bright, mind-altering colors.
Reverb effects, fuzzy guitars, jaunty percussion, deep layers of texture and even Pink Floyd-esque background conversation in the jam tune “Keep on Lying” highlight the psychedelic style that permeates the album. Parker’s voice, which aptly sounds remarkably similar to John Lennon, swoops in and perfectly completes this psychedelic sound.
Tracks such as “Mind Mischief,” “Endors Toi” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” encapsulate the upbeat, inventive and mind-melting song style that makes “Lonerism” truly great.
The pure execution with which Tame Impala captures everything that can make psychedelic music great, combined with catchy and clever pop song structures, make up an album that is both imminently listenable and deeply rewarding of, at least in my case, an inordinate amount of listens.
So, do you like the Beatles? Do you like music? I don’t really know what you’re waiting for then – Tame Impala’s “Lonerism” needs some company.