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Jeff Walker Reviews: Tame Impala “The Slow Rush”

Tame Impala's fourth album explores the fleeting concept of time with a smooth psychedelic sound

Tame Impala “The Slow Rush” (Interscope Fiction). Kevin Parker is the musical mastermind behind the psychedelic rock/pop outfit Tame Impala. Hailing from Perth, Australia, he released the first Tame Impala album “Innerspeaker” 10 years ago when he was 24 years old. Although Tame Impala is a band, their music and albums are solely written, recorded, and produced by Parker himself; Parker plays with a full five-piece band for live sets. “The Slow Rush” arrives five years after “Currents,” the album that made his one-man band more famous than he could’ve imagined.

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Parker started out in 2010 as a home-recording, guitar-wielding psychedelic rocker, but 2015’s “Currents” cemented his metamorphosis into an arena-filling synth-psych act whose tunes are covered by Rihanna and Arctic Monkeys. Along the way, he has collaborated with Mark Ronson, Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Travis Scott. On “The Slow Rush,” his fourth album, Parker takes a breath and eases into a smoother psychedelic sound. Even without the adrenaline-filled highs, the compositions are as rich and thoughtful as ever.

“The Slow Rush” is extraordinarily detailed with influences that reach into specific corners of the past six decades, from Philly soul and early prog to acid house, adult-contemporary R&B, and Late Registration. I marvel that all this sound and history comes from Parker alone, picking every string and twisting every knob. Tame Impala’s first two albums were centered mainly around reverberated guitars, rather than the heavy emphasis on synthesizers we see on this album and “Currents,” his previous record.

The first single “Borderline” was originally released during Tame Impala’s headlining-Coachella performance in April of 2019, but Parker reworked it on this new album into a more complete song. The release date and title of the album were announced in October 2019, along with the second single, “It Might Be Time.” This and other singles provided a different sound for Parker, featuring some of the same dreamy synthesizers from “Currents,” but with more acoustic layering.

The Slow Rush” as an album explores the fleeting concept of time. This is evident with the album’s opener, “One More Year,” an entrancing song whose instrumental consists of a reverberated and distorted vocal snippet of the song’s title. This song has Parker singing about acknowledging how fleeting time is, but not caring about its limiting factors and living life to its fullest extent. Fortunately, this album was worth the five-year wait. “The Slow Rush” is arguably Parker’s most fully realized and satisfying effort to date. The concept of time recurs throughout the album. “One More Hour,” the album’s closing track , serves as a bookend to the opener, “One More Year.”  The Slow Rush is a fantastic album of musical bliss that seems to be a true passion project from Kevin Parker. It’s a musical shift from Tame Impala’s last record, and the unmitigated ambition that is present on this album is spectacular. I believe it lives up to the rest of Tame Impala’s diverse yet fantastic discography. Key tracks are “One More Year,” “Posthumous Forgiveness,” and “Breathe Deeper.”

 

 

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