Listening to Currents feels like listening to a band undergo a metamorphosis. You thought what they once were was pretty cool and what they will be could be amazing, but what they are right now, well, it’s a bit ugly, kind of messy and takes a while to get to the good bits. Which is not to say that the follow up to 2012’s well-received Lonerism isn’t good in its own right. Tame Impala is a good band. It’s probably going to need some listens and some years to be either appreciated and reissued, or forgotten and moved on from. Though in their short existence they have cemented themselves as a guitar band, and the album cover is reminiscent of say a Steely Dan or an nonexistent Dire Straits / Talking Heads 7 inch, there is less guitar here than a fan of psycho-delico live portrayals of Lonerism might expect.
Tame Impala – Awash in Currents
Written, performed, recorded, produced and mixed by Kevin Parker, Currents is the soundtrack to Parker’s life. The album is him forsaking the “followup album” and instead playing with an idea. That idea spans the musical genre-scape of easy listening, funk, futury synth-pop, reverb-laden 80s electro, and even touches on hip hop, as if 2001 took place in the Playboy Mansion.
The intro track “Let It Happen” drops into a phase-out drum thump a third of the way through letting us know that this album is stylistically, as well as conceptually about transitions. Life, love, music, and the mind, Parker’s is evolving into a brand new person that also happens to be a one-man recording machine. More Moby and less Pink Floyd. Soon he won’t even be seen with an instrument, just a floating head. Despite the erratic nature of the collection of songs, there is still the soaring sonic cascading over the everpresent dropkick beat. Add in loops, handclaps, psycho-fuzz and crank up the reverb and you’ve got Currents.
“The Moment” feels at times like a sun-drenched day at a beach party and alternately a bit too much like too much ecstasy at a Full-Moon Party. But at least it’s still a party. “Yes, I’m Changing” lacks a lilting melody to lift it out of a down-tempo abyss (obviously because Parker says he can’t remember making it…) while “The Less I Know The Better” seems like a Caucasian cry for help in the Disco-funk era. “‘Cause I’m A Man” is a Prince/Beck lovechild ode to naked slow dancing that is actually lyrically audible. I can hear and understand him. While not a classic album, there are moments of beauty, great beats and melodies and a mostly upbeat feel that I can dance to– a great step forward for the Tame Impala / Kevin Parker sound.