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Album Review: Tame Impala // Currents

Tame Impala has become somewhat of a household name to those whose taste leans towards the more psychedelic end of the spectrum. Since the early days of 2008 they have more or less become the de facto ambassadors for the Neo-Psychedelic movement by consistently pumping out catchy, well crafted songs that seemed to directly channel the spirits of the 60s.

For this latest effort, frontman Kevin Parker takes on the role of mad professor in the studio; tackling production duties and arranging most of the instrumentation. What is born is an experimental creation all of his own; more personal and more emotional than the bands previous material.

There has always been a modest electronic presence in world of Tame Impala, helping in its way to create the groups luscious signature sound. However on ‘Currents’ there is a distinct shift of focus. Rich, multi-layered synthesizers have are now front and center, pushing the heavy, fuzzed-out guitars somewhere towards the back of the stage. The sound isn’t all together vastly different but for anyone expecting rockers like ‘Elephant’, you will not find them here.

The drums also take on a different form on this record. Parker has opted for more simple beats; leaving an absence of fills and splashy cymbals and adopting the tried and true boom-bap beats of 70s Funk. The result of these key changes in the bands approach to music is an album full of deep grooves and emotional vocal performances that are amplified and carried by a rich eletronic feel.

The album is threaded with a series of unifying motifs which tie together each song and, indeed, the album as a whole. Unfortunately, this could be its downfall. There are a handful of highlights including ‘Let It Happen’, ‘The Less I Know The Better’ and the incredibly powerful ‘Eventually’. But rather than being supported by equally great songs, the remainder of the album comes across a bit like filler (two of the tracks actually being wordless interludes).

Earlier in the year they released four songs as a teaser for the album and the were so good I couldn’t stop listening to them. Had they been released by themselves, it would have made for a near perfect EP. However, stretching that sound over an entire album without much deviation seems to dilute the overall effect. By the time you’ve arrived at the end of the album you are hoping for the same excitement that the first tracks brought; what you get is more of the same.

Having said this, it is still a great record that brings a lot of original ideas and material to the table. As a band they’ve growm dramatically over just a few short years, only becoming better with time and this album is proof that they will continue to do so. Recommended to those of you seeking a bit of sweet Electronically driven Psych-Pop.

Article by Edward Acheson

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