Review: Tame Impala – Currents

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By Glen Essnew balance outlet boston

Tame Impala’s third album is quite the departure from the psych rock vibes of their previous two releases, Innerspeaker and Lonerism. Instead of the guitar driven, feverishly paced style that was the classic, Tame Impala sound, Kevin Parker dials down the strings in place of synths and catchy bass lines. From the very first note the album is reminiscent of an old school, almost fuzzy psychedelic dance album. Lead track, “Let It Happen”, uses a crackling guitar as an afterthought while gifting most of the spotlight to a groovy, swaying synth line. From there, things slow down, with only the occasional upshift, with most of the songs exhibiting a weighty, droney bass-line and walls of synthesizers, the album is almost caught in two minds, between a chilled out, trippy vibe and a funk infused dance album. With “Nangs” and “I’m a Man” on the more mellow, slower side, balanced out by the groovy “Less I Know The Better” and the distant echo-y “Reality In Motion”.

With Parker’s Lennon-esque falsetto singing voice merely adding to the relaxed, trippy vibes that wind their way through the record. Currents is laid back, far more so than 2012’s Lonerism and it isn’t afraid to slow it down and take it’s time, mirroring Parker’s lyrics, that chronicle a circular journey of introspection and self doubt that ultimately doesn’t seem to end in epiphany. There is no doubt that the tone of the album was shaped by Parker’s break up with Melody Prochet of Melody’s Echo Chamber. Parker very rarely addresses the actual relationship itself, most openly referring to it on “Eventually” and “Past Lives”. For the most part, however, his lyrics are centered very much on his own sense of self, his own definition of what makes him tick; a hazy concept that he frequently double guesses and demonstrates much doubt over, while feverishly looking forward to an almost mythical “Instance” where everything clicks into place and he can leave behind all the weighty emotional anchors that are dragging on his air max 90

Barring those few moments where Parker let’s loose and fully explores the foot tapping, head bobbing, hip swaying swagger of a Soul/Funk fusion fed through a Prince-styled prism; Currents is a remarkably quiet album for Tame Impala, with the music sitting back, stretching out and letting it all trickle out instead of forcing it out in a rush. Always taking his time, and taking each song to it’s very limits, Parker’s production is as smooth as they come, absolutely no part of Currents seems hurried. And yet, I can’t help but think that those moments where the rhythm pulsates faster and faster and the song builds into a delirious climax, those are the moments that really stand out. The shining moments on Currents are all the more upbeat, groovy, dance-able tracks, in particular, “Let It Happen”, “The Moment” and most impressively, “The Less I Know The Better”, which is up there for Song Of The Year, in my mind at air max shop

Glen also hosts Rhythm & Rhyme on CIVL 101.7FM on Friday’s from 4-6

New Music Review

Yukon Blonde – On Blonde
By Glen Ess
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On Blonde, the third release by Kelowna based quintet: Yukon Blonde, joins an ever expanding list of 2015 releases that draw upon the sound of the 80’s. With bands such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tame Impala, as well as solo acts like Brandon Flowers, Little Boots and Shamir joining in on the fun and releasing groovy releases full to bursting with catchy hooks, Yukon Blonde are certainly in good company with this album.
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Stylistically, the album is driven by the use of synths to create a stunning collection with poppy hooks and catchy choruses. The heavy use of keyboards and synthesizers to drive the album certainly contributes to the retro, glitzy 80’s pop rock feel that permeates throughout each individual song. The first half of the album is powerfully delivered, fast and contains the strongest songs. With “Saturday Night” and “Make U Mine” standing out in particular. After the midway track, “Hannah”, which isn’t as brashly confident as it’s predecessors, serving as a sort of breather before the band builds the intensity back up, culminating in the final two tracks, “Favorite People” and “Jezebel”.
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With the keyboard taking center stage, the rest of the instruments do seem to fade significantly into the background at several points. The drumming is lush but often under utilized and the bass-lines are simplistic, though they contribute heavily to the groovier, more danceable songs, proving that complexity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. The use of guitars however, was timed to perfection, jumping at the exact moment to wrench attention away from the keyboard and command the flow of the song, albeit always on a temporary basis.
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Lyrically, the album contains simple, catchy, repetitive choruses, making it very hard not to join in, especially during “Saturday Night”. The lyrics themselves aren’t particularly deep, or carry much in the way of emotional weight or hidden meanings. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though as it helps avoid the overwrought purple prose that’s chock full of unnecessary imagery. “On Blonde” follows a very simple script, it’s about going out, having a good time and maybe getting someone to go home with you.
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A catchy and easy on the ears release, it may not stick in your mind for very long but it’ll be enjoyable while it lasts, it certainly compares favorably to other 80’s infused releases from this year.
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Highlights: Make U Mine, Saturday Night & Jezebel.

Glen also hosts Rhythm & Rhyme on Fridays from 4-6 on CIVL 101.7 FM