Flow Down the Stream of 80's Psychedelia with Tame Impala's 'Currents'

Tame Impala’s sound can be described as a combination of rock, pop, synth-pop, sugar pop and several others. When listening to their earlier albums: “Innerspeaker” and “Lonerism,” it can be easy to slip into the grooves and tune out the lyrics.

“Currents” is a nice change for fans. The sound of Currents is smooth with a nice tempo. No two songs are alike.

The sound of “Currents” holds onto the core elements that first made Tame Impala appealing to many. The vocals are strong and passionate and the bass line commands each song. The production and mixing blend instruments well while keeping that dream-like sound of psychedelia alive is evident throughout the album.

Instruments do not overshadow the vocals and the synthesizer and snapping have been given a larger role. With this new but familiar sound, the listener will still be able lose themselves in the grooves while still being able to absorb the lyrics.

At first glance, “Currents” is somewhat of a concept album. It tells the story of love and loss of love, relationships and the process of moving on with one’s life and changing as a person.

What's impressive about “Currents” is that it was all recorded, mixed and produced by the lead singer and guitarist, Kevin Parker.

Tame Impala’s first two albums sang the songs of loneliness and being introverted. “Currents” is a curveball as it sings the story of heartbreak, love and emotional rebirth with an upbeat an extrovert tune.

A few Notable Tracks

Let it Happen - Currents begins with “Let it Happen,” a song that describes how frustrating and distracting life is for the narrator. The narrator begins to listen to his inner voice, telling him to allow life to flow around him, to let go of his ego and “let it happen.”

Parker chose the right song to open the album with; “Let it Happen” is a proud and powerful introduction to the trip down the currents of psychedelia that flow throughout the album.

Halfway through the track skips and becomes stuck on a loop. Stringed instruments, drums and electronics crescendo and break the skip, and return to the familiar melody, followed by inaudible lyrics and the realization of the narrator he has always been capable of letting go.

Nangs - “Nangs” is short and sweet, much like the high one apparently receives from nangs -- canisters filled with nitrous oxide that are inhaled. The high is described to give one a feeling of detachment for a minute or so.

The lyrics “Is there something more than that?” repeat, layered over by drums and synth. It is easy to feel detached when listening to this song, but it only lasts so long.

Yes I’m Changing - Easily the best song of the album lyrically, “Yes I’m Changing.” The lyrics are simple and powerful.

The narrator explains he has found a new outlook and he is in the process of changing himself, now perceiving the world differently. “I felt the strangest emotion, but it wasn’t hate for once,” he says.

This song is synth heavy and has a simple, calming baseline. Our narrator’s cries of passion tell us how much this change means to him and how free he is becoming.


Analysis

“Currents” was spectacular. It was a step away from “Lonerism” and it showed that Parker is continuing to develop as a musician and producer. The album tried new things with rhythm and vocal overlay.

It was a simple and very structured album. Simple is good though; a lot about this album it is not about what the narrator says but how he says it.

The lyrics were easy to follow and they were the most important part of “Currents”, unlike “Lonerism” which stressed guitar riffs and instrumental elements.

Melodies of the longer songs on the album seemed stretched out while the shorter songs were were cut far too short.

Promotion for this album was odd. One thing that ruined the sense of mystery of the album was the release of four singles within a few months. It may have been better to not do an AMA and instead release the promotional video and release the album two weeks later.

Many will enjoy this album because of how diverse the track list is and how replayable most of the songs are. One can only wonder what Parker will create next.


Listen to the album for free.

Reach the reporter at anicla@asu.edu or follow @andrewniclaASU on Twitter

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