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Tame Impala - The Slow Rush (Album Review)

Thursday, 20 February 2020 Written by Graeme Marsh

Whether or not you enjoy Tame Impala’s fourth album ‘The Slow Rush’ will probably hinge on where you sit in a certain debate. Do you think each album released by Kevin Parker has seen a steady decline, subsequently yearning for the fuzzy, warped guitars of his early work? Or do you welcome their absence, instead warming to the electronic world he now moves in?

Well, if you’re hoping for a return to the blissful, reverb-soaked guitars that made ‘Innerspeaker’ and ‘Lonerism’ such perfect psych-rock albums then you will be disappointed. ‘The Slow Rush’ is closer in spirit to 2015’s ‘Currents’, an album that divided his fanbase with its shift in focus. This switch, however, was difficult to argue against after hearing just one track: the phenomenal opener Let It Happen.

Tame Impala albums generally need time to grow. Here, though, we have a problem. For increased appeal over time, you need moments that hook you and pull you back in, but there aren’t many on ‘The Slow Rush’. Without them, we’re in a Catch-22 scenario. 

Borderline—a single re-recorded for the album—does contain such a hook in its melody, but it’s overused as Parker relates to being a “loner in L.A.”, where most of the album was put together. Contrastingly, another moment of interest comes with the grossly under-used melody of opener One More Year and its mysterious, warped keyboard sounds.

Then we have the initial appeal of the Supertramp keys of closer One More Hour and It Might Be Time, but you soon realise that a number of ‘70s bands utilised this sound to greater effect. There are other talking points but many are music-adjacent, such as the compelling video for Scritti Politti-esque single Lost In Yesterday.

There are also lyrical shortcomings across the record that might inspire a dismissive analysis, but the standout Posthumous Forgiveness tells a story that could make you weep. With issues surrounding his late father clearly still resonating, Parker comes across as a little boy wanting his dad to be proud of him. It’s heartbreaking to hear as he vents anger—“I always thought heroes stay close whenever troubled times arose”—before finding forgiveness and wishing his father could sing along to his songs.

Parker has stated that he cannot work creatively when with others, but the man once heralded as the saviour of rock ‘n’ roll seems increasingly in need of his own saviour to step in and ease the burden of writing, performing, producing and mixing. There will be plenty who think ‘The Slow Rush’ is the best thing since sliced bread, but there will also be many who yearn for Tame Impala’s old ways when confronted with its sometimes featureless, beige blandness. In truth, both arguments hold some water, and you’re left wondering if Parker has now transformed from being a master artist into a master producer for other artists.

Tame Impala Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat May 23 2020 - LONDON Victoria Park

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