Updated: Jul 3, 2020
Tame Impala’s first album in 5 years continues to show that Kevin Parker is the best in the business at what he does.
I could not resist writing about my favourite band in the world’s newest album. In a previous piece, I talked about the best five albums of the last decade & noted Tame Impala’s previous release, Currents, as the best album of the last decade.
The Slow Rush continues Tame Impala’s sole member, Kevin Parker’s musical evolution from a fuzzy, psychedelic indie band to a prog-pop-come-soft-rock powerhouse.
I actually had to sit there and think about how I’d define The Slow Rush’s sound, because there isn’t really any firm genre or label you can stick onto it. It’s a fluid, genre-defying record with a lot of musical experimentation.
Moving into the music, the introductory track One More Year opens with a warped choir sound repeating the song’s title before moving into a signature ‘Tame Impala’ backbeat. The song’s lyrical themes are one of being stuck in a loop, with one’s life feeling somewhat aimless and adrift. This theme continues on throughout the record in one form or another.
Later in the record, songs like Borderline, Breathe Deeper and Is It True? provide some light-hearted single-sounding liveliness to the record. Each of these tracks feels like the main crux of what the album truly is; a prog-pop masterpiece.
Of these, perhaps my favourite is Breathe Deeper. The song crescendos and releases repeatedly without really feeling the need to build anticipation. It really feels like what pop-music should be in 2020. An enjoyable listen that also exhibits the musician’s ability.
Continuing the theme of the human relationship with time, the album’s principal single, Lost in Yesterday, takes a look at how nostalgia can become addictive, leading to people eventually living their lives in the past, rather than the present. The accompanying music video is wonderful, and I would thoroughly recommend you check it out if interesting music videos are something you like.
Parker does use The Slow Rush to demonstrate his songwriting prowess in other ways too. The songs On Track & Posthumous Forgiveness offer a more sombre look at life.
On Track takes a reflects a feeling of astaticism in life. Whilst the verses describe frustration at not being able to move forward, whether it be due to a series of unfortunate setbacks or a lack of financial means. Conversely, the choruses act as a kind of response to the verse’s narration, claiming:
“Strictly speaking I’m still on track”
Posthumous Forgiveness is also lyrically, quite a downbeat track, in that it focusses on Parker’s own personal relationship with his presumably now-deceased father, with whom he clearly had a difficult relationship.
This song is very different from your typical Tame Impala song because it is split into two distinct parts. The first describes how Parker thought of his father during his life.
“And you could store an ocean in the holes in any of the explanations that you gave”
The second half contrasts the cynicism of the first, by offering forgiveness for the misdeeds of the first half. Parker relates certain high points in his career with his father like standing in Abbey Road, the famous recording studio of The Beatles & Pink Floyd, as well as having Mick Jagger on the phone & how each moment made him think of his father.
Later down the record, we find the first and only big rocker of this record; It Might Be Time. This song, like so many Tame Impala songs from previous records, focusses in on Parker’s social insecurities.
The second chorus reads:
“It might be time to face it,
Nobody knows what you’ve come here for,
You’re going under,
They roll their eyes when you’re at the door”
It Might Be Time is the loudest and most raucous song on the record, but honestly, it’s got to be one of my favourites. Yes, the backbeats on other tracks are better, yes lyrically others provide more depth, but sometimes, you just cannot beat a loud rocker.
The final song of the album, One More Hour, described by Parker himself as: “It’s kind of about the feeling that your life is about to turn a chapter and the feeling in those closing moments, you know, like there’s no turning back”
Similarly to its sister track, One More Year, which was very clearly written to open the album, One More Hour was clearly written as an outro piece.
Opening on a delicate piano before the initial lines, you immediately get the sense that this song is the closure of the album. Within the first minute, the song evolves into something reminiscent of a 70s stadium-rock ballad - the loud call followed by the short response.
The lyrics are fairly clearly outlining a reminiscent look at Parker’s life to where he is now, talking about what used to motivate him and what motivates him now. Lines like “I did it for love” and “I did it for fun”, followed by “But never for money” and “Not for houses, not for her”, rounded off at the end of the verse by “Until now”.
The song then rounds off the album beautifully with a coda that reads like a poem & rolls into the song perfectly. Each line before the next outlining doubts, fears and changes about the future – something that I’m sure everybody can relate to in one way or another.
Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush is obviously very focused around the passage of time and our own interaction with the phenomenon. Pop records are seldom thought-provoking, especially in the modern era, but The Slow Rush encourages listeners to look inwards about their past, future and present.
It is a very good record with enough easy-going tracks thrown in there to lighten the mood so that you’re not constantly considering your own life’s journey. It is a strong contender for the best album in Tame Impala’s catalogue.
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