Tame Impala Tame ImpalaInnerspeaker
To hell with that saying that goes, “this band’s music is pure revival, but they make it sound new,” when what they really mean is “there is nothing new here, but I like it and I have to justify it one way or another.” With an album like “Innerspeaker”, it is easy to detonate phrases like that. Because yes, Kevin Parker’s voice sounds as though someone has brought John Lennon back from the dead with his vocal chords intact, and the music of these Australians, as Tame Impala , play is worn through with some heavily referenced sounds. The songs on this debut don’t achieve a renewal in the revival of old ideas, but rather they actually mange to do something new. And that’s all. Now we do have to explain. The references are on the table, and we’re going to get them out of the way as quickly as possible, like a genealogical tree: the Beatles more lost in their acid banquet; British folk that starts off being pastoral without ignoring the guitars ( The Kinks); American psychedelics that go from the softest to the hardest (that is to say: from Love to Jimi Hendrix Experience); British 90s pop that tried to turn its back on the lists of NME based on drifting and distortion; and the new psych-folk that flees from weird by loosening all the possible moorings ( The Skygreen Leopards). Here are the colours of war paint with which hundreds of bands have camouflaged themselves when it comes to assaulting the jungle of the musical scene.
Now, what happens if we put together two names in such an unexpected pair as Battles and Four Tet? There, where the majority of current proposals limit themselves to retracing a rancid sound, Tame Impala opt to dress up the references in a corset of math-electro music. These two descriptions might seem alien on the surface, but not in their soul. The band that put out “Mirrored” (Warp, 2007) take the capacity for structures in which the psychedelic repetition is projected precisely and mathematically in a flight towards a point where there is no space for scientific coldness. From Kieran Hebden, they draw the ability to obligate the digital sound to lie among analogue cotton that pads the sound; they shift it away from metallic to dip it into the organic. That is to say: psychedelics, ok; mathematical repetition, cool. But coldness, never. Where many would have opted for copying hypnotic psych as if it were a festival of dispersion, Tame Impala apply a load of mathematics that, surprisingly, turns out to be warmer than could have been expected. Analogue psychedelics practiced with digital precision? …Something like that.
With production from Dave Fridmann ( Flaming Lips), “Innerspeaker” is structured like a war in two phases: the first part is a very correct diplomatic battle, while in the second part you can already smell the gunpowder rising from the trenches. The goal is to conquer a unique, original sound. It’s clear from the very beginning that the ghosts of The Beatles form a part of the Australians’ arsenal. “ It’s Not Meant To Be” opens the album almost like the first score of a great soundtrack with a Tarantino-style introduction of characters, until Kevin Parker’s voice comes in and it changes into an episode of James Bond starring the people from “Revolver” (Apple, 1966). “ Lucidity” harks back, from the very title, to another Lucy who is encouraged to go up into a sky filled with diamonds based on claps that multiply with a mathematically exact reiteration.
But not everything can be reduced to the ascendance of Lennon and company: “ Solitude is Bliss” is the song that is closest to modernity in the line of Stone Roses, while “ Desire Be Desire Go”, the second song on “Innerspeaker”, inaugurates the sound of distorted guitars, but not distorted upwards, but rather backwards, towards the bottom of the song. Standing out above all of these songs is “ Alter Ego”, the cornerstone of the constants of the rest of the record: cottony cymbals, guitars in perspective that are lost on the horizon, a backbone of millimetric percussion, ambients that expand in echo, voices like the gas that comes out of a bottle of Coca-Cola that’s been open all night. To all of this, the perfect chorus also has to be added, one that is four choruses at the same time and which, when it seems to reach its climax, surprises you by jumping to another climax.
For the end of the album there is a guerrilla war experienced by a marine with free access to opium. “ Jeremy’s Storm” borders on a Lennon-like delirium in the voices and closes with a digressive loop that gives way to a closing section in which the songs stop being songs to become part of a homogenous whole. Then, “ Expectation” is pure unanchored psychedelic guitar, drifting; “ The Bold Arrow of Time” is the lovely final swan song, lasting seven minutes, with its synthesisers from a galactic era only imaginable in the 70s up to its ass in LSD. Lastly, “ Runaway, Houses, City, Clouds” closes the album with a definitive, coherent marvel: after that kind of route, the normal thing would be for the voice to become another element of repetition to expand into the infinite and beyond. Parker repeats over and over “ but I don’t really mind”… But we do mind. And we are interested. We mind and are interested that “Innerspeaker” is an argument for sending somebody to straight to hell the next time they say “this band’s music is pure revival, but they make it sound like something new.”
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