It’s not often you hear music that stars are made of. For a generation that is both restless and rarely satisfied, Australian psych-rock outfit Tame Impala provides a sound that is lusciously rich and full of throwback sounds that melt together in an acid infused wonderland. Melodic riffs meet a psychedelic blur that is enriched with the creative influences of lead singer, guitarist, and producer Kevin Parker. A new twist on old tricks that include reverse delay and phasers give birth to rhythms that you might as well bathe in. With humble beginnings in Perth, Australia, Tame Impala gives a nod, or more like a bow, to the trippy and distorted sounds of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
The new wave of psychedelia is the fruition of a generation that is once again disgruntled with their world, and has become a form of release for the rebellious frustration that comes with a youth that has it all. With the return of bell bottoms and crop tops, obsession with fancy cigarettes, the romanticization of drugs, and abundance of alcohol, this is the time of the expensive hippie. In an era where individuals relish in the excess that absorbs them, Tame Impala provides an existential interlude from a materialistic culture, and like a rocket going to space, catapults the listener into an alternate universe that marries the weird and the pretty into an out of mind experience that questions the lines between reality and a dream. Tame Impala primarily consists of Kevin Parker, Cam Avery, Dominic Simper, Jay Watson and Julien Barbagello. Their first EP, released in 2008 was just the whipped cream on a frothy mug of what was to come. Debut album Innerspeaker provided a window to the creative processes of mastermind Kevin Parker, while Lonerism exposed a matrix of music that wrapped itself around your mind, unwilling to leave.
Starting as just a couple of friends jamming together, Tame Impala has evolved into a roughly polished band that is evocative of the sweeping, oozy tonality of Jefferson Airplane and The Beatles. With an artillery of equipment that includes a variety of pedals that creates Tame Impala’s signature sound, Parker allows clusters of notes to resonate, which then slowly emerge, like a smoke line of incense into a singular, easy to grasp melody that only once again gets swallowed up in a dream like dissonance. Both glamorous and dark, songs like “Solitude is Bliss” on Innerspeaker and “Keep on Lying” on Lonerism provide angsty lyrics that are intertwined with a coming of age, twenty something moral conflict. Often about being both in and outside your head, as well as in a state of higher consciousness, Parker’s sensitive approach to songwriting provides a sweetly vulnerable shell to restless drums and dancey conglomerates of beats that periodically explode. Foregoing any pretentious airs, Tame Impala just does them, and does it really well. Unlike any band on the horizon at the moment, with the possible exception of Pond, unsurprisingly an offshoot project related to Tame Impala, and English rockers the Temples, the definition of psychedelia is getting getting dusted off and revamped with the help of mixing the classic and introspective in an accessible and intellectual manner.
In an age of auto tune, Tame Impala is resurrecting music in its most organic form, and is re-introducing complex grooves in a way that makes you think; in many ways, Tame Impala is providing musical brain food to make a smarter listener. With a recent performance at The Shrine theater, which was the largest Tame Impala show to date, and back to back shows at The Fox in Oakland, their shows continue to sell out. Tame Impala dropped grooves in South America for the the Music Wins festival in Buenos Aires along with notable bands like Real Estate and then headed to the Popload festival in São Paulo, Brazil where psych-funk group Pond also played. As their tour comes to a wrap, and rumors of a more electronic album on the horizon, Tame Impala continues to journey into uncharted territory, and may they continue to do so.