Tame Impala’s Lonerism is an apparent modern classic from first listen. Of course, as with their 2010 release Innerspeaker, many reviews of the record were consistently occupied, nay obsessed, with exposing Tame Impala for being purveyors of pseudo-psychedelia. Comments on the bands YouTube videos range from “The Beatles + Pink Floyd = Tame Impala” to “The album should be called Lennonism not Lonerism!” Not only is that a shit joke, but in the muddle of deciphering whether they are more like Beatles or Pink Floyd, the truth of the album can be completely ignored - they just sound like Tame Impala. No other band has ever been able to produce a sonic landscape like Lonerism. Kevin Parker has delivered a streamlined 21st century production that, whilst drawing on 60’s and 70’s music (like all music since the 60’s and 70’s by the way), remains clear and independent.
Growing from Tame Impala’s previous output, the songs are far stronger on Lonerism - opting for melody over the preferred whirling mêlée of Innerspeaker. From the album’s shuffling intro, chanting ‘Got to be Above it’, the songs are characterised by leaner running times and tighter, more traceable instrumental breaks. Highlighted by the album’s clear stand out tracks, the radio friendly element of the album has clearly not comprised Parker’s ability, it has greatly enhanced it. Elephant growls and thumps majestically, also carrying the album’s best lyrics - “He pulled the mirrors of his cadillac ‘cause he doesn’t like it looking like he looks back.” Then there is the album’s strongest player - It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards. It simply is an amazing achievement. A simple melody that is packed with substance and suggestion, embodying anguish and frustration brilliantly.
Now sky high in most people’s 25 Most Played list on iTunes, the song captures the genius of Lonerism. Innerspeaker allowed Kevin Parker to run wild, painting glorious pictures with brash colours and dizzying sonics. Lonerism takes these creations and finely outlines the misery, the joy and the relationships the occupy these pictures. It is at its heart a rock record, of course it is, but we can understand far more of the importance of Lonerism as a pop record. Hooks and simple lyrics that involve the listener more than they could have anticipated. On track 11, Kevin Parker simply, repeats “Nothing that has happened so far has been anything we could control”, the melody barely searches further than the same three or four notes - yet the song’s scope is irrepressibly epic, emblazoning the mantra across Parker’s swirling terrain. So whilst many are obsessed with comparing Parker’s voice to Lennon’s, or his guitar pedals to those used by Jimi Hendrix, I believe the only valid comparison to be drawn between Parker’s creation and the psychedelia of the 60’s is in the production an album that exercises true emotion in a world without limits.
Words: Angus Harrison