Album Review: Tame Impala - The Slow Rush
Think of Tame Impala, and it’s easy to conjure up images of swirling, psychedelic colour; the distant sounds of innovative, infectious bass riffs probably already ringing in your ears. This is the legacy of 2015's Currents, an album which came to be absolutely seminal for Kevin Parker.
After such heightened success, there was clearly much to reflect on for Parker over the past five years and out of this reflection, The Slow Rush was born. Of course, the first question is always going to be whether The Slow Rush can compare to the beloved Currents – the answer is not yet clear. With his fourth release, Parker has crafted something which thematically and tonally feels worlds away from the melancholic heartbreak of Currents.
The Slow Rush embraces a total meditation on time and nostalgia – it’s enough to give the best of us a bit of an existential crisis. The opening track ‘One More Year’ launches you straight into the crux of things, confronting you with Parker’s hard-hitting revelation that his life had meandered into repetitive territory. Yet, this isn’t confronted in quite the panicked way that one might expect and be inclined towards. Instead, Parker finds himself donning quite a 'carpe diem' attitude – if he can do this for one more year, he’s going to make the most of it. From the get go, the detail of Parker’s tracks is palpable. The instrumental of ‘One More Year’ is his voice, distorted and repeating the title of the song, and it's these kinds of minuscule moments which weave themselves around the album as a whole, embedding it into a web of intricacies.
‘Instant Destiny’ reinforces this attitude entirely. Harking back to his previous releases (the synths are back and better than ever), this track sees Parker hopelessly and whimsically romantic as he considers proposing to his wife. Its heady impulsivity and the powerful, recklessness of this love is completely gorgeous, wrapping you up and transporting you to whatever sun-tinged, carefree place the two are inhabiting.
The entire album is riddled with contemplations, yes, but there’s no denying that they are contemplations made to dance to. ‘Breathe Deeper’ is the perfect example of this. As a track it epitomises the central force of the album both in sentiment and sound. This is Kevin Parker’s deep breath, his moment of calm and steadiness, as he reflects on what the past few years have delivered to him, all whilst shimmering amongst otherworldly synths and uplifting melodies. It’s optimistic and thoughtful in every sense.
The standout track of the album is undoubtedly ‘Tomorrow’s Dust’, scattered with light-hearted percussion and delving deeper into the pivotal idea of time. Parker’s lyrics often find themselves masked under layers of production. It’s unlikely that he’s the first artist who springs to mind when you think of the most profound lyricist. However, upon taking a closer look underneath the dazzling production, there’s some incredibly thought-provoking words to consider. Confessional and deeply introspective, Parker’s lyricism is far from expectations, and ‘Tomorrow’s Dust’ shows some of his best.
Parker describes ‘On Track’ as a “song for the eternal optimist”, a notion that feels apt for the album’s message as a whole. He urges the listener time and time again to consider how yes, time passes, but that doesn’t have to mean we linger on the hurt of the past. Rather, we grasp the time we have left firmly, and live recklessly. The same vital optimism that lies at the heart of the album is encompassed in ‘Glimmer’. As an album, The Slow Rush seems miles away from the loneliness and dejection of previous works.
Some tracks admittedly fall flat and begin to blend into one another. Nevertheless, when the tracks are good, they’re really good, and the soaring soundscapes that Parker meticulously crafts shows that his incomparable talent is not waning anytime soon. It perhaps won’t appeal to the masses quite like Currents did – it doesn’t quite have the same ground-breaking edge to it. But whether that will bother Parker is a different matter. The album is distinctly different and the progression of Parker as an artist is notable. Maybe it isn’t the album that fans have waited a long five years for, but Parker’s happiness shines through each track – does that make its lack of game-changing, revolutionary material worthwhile? It would seem so.