11.11.14

TAME IMPALA

Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, The Who… anyone reading Just Backdated in the past two weeks would think that its author only ever listened to music produced by musicians that qualify for bus passes, not that any of that lot will have travelled on a bus for donkey's years now. Well, that’s not strictly true and sat at home this morning nursing a cold I set aside this new Floyd album and instead stuck on Tame Impala, the psychedelic rockers led by Kevin Parker from Perth in Western Australia.
In truth, I can hear a bit of Beatles in TA, not least because there’s a dash of Revolver/Pepper era Lennon in Parker’s treated voice, but that’s as far as the comparison goes for TA are light years ahead of the Fabs sonically if not compositionally (but then very few are). In some ways it’s what I think Lennon might have gone on to if only… but then again there’s also Cotton Mather’s Kontiki album if I want to listen to what The Beatles might have sounded like in some unspecified future, without Paul to temper John’s more exploratory songs.
But back to Tame Impala, whom I prefer to Cotton Mather any day. Parker, who writes and records all the TA music himself, assembling other musicians only for touring purposes, is certainly influenced by the music of the second half of the sixties, but his guitars seem to have been overdubbed a hundred times and fed through all kids of modern effects, mostly phasing, that weren’t available in those days, aside from delay which was called echo then. Everything is stretched out and spacey, liquid, soupy and spinning. Then there’s the catchy melodies, which grab the ear and stay there, while the lyrics, difficult to comprehend of course, are at best affecting and at worst challenging. But this doesn’t matter as this is what R.E.M. pioneered back in the day; the sound of words as an instrument in themselves as opposed to a vehicle to convey specific meaning. In tone, however, there’s a suggestion of solitude and angst, as if Parker wallows in gloom but manages to disguise his inner feelings midst the sheer beauty of his swirling electronic landscape.                                      
          I’ve been listening to both Tame Impala albums, Innerspeaker and Lonerism, for a while now and more recently bought a live download called Live Versions, on which Parker’s songs are expanded with what I assume is on-stage improvisation. Of course, they’d been acclaimed elsewhere in magazines and by the great and the good who nominate award winners, so I’m not trying to be a talent spotter here, just jumping on a bandwagon that I read this morning also includes the producer and songwriter Mark Ronson, who sings about the group in a song on his forthcoming album. With that recommendation I can only concur: Tame Impala are the sound of yesterday today, the sound Pink Floyd and maybe even Lennon would be making in 2014 if they were all 20 again.

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