By Mekenzie Primm
Kevin Parker, the brain behind the indie-psychedelic supergroup, Tame Impala, has outdone himself yet again. After a five-year-long hiatus following the release of his 2015 magnum-opus Currents, people have been anxiously waiting for new music from Tame Impala.
As I alluded to, Currents has become an album that has taken on a life of its own. That album has inserted itself as an integral part of indie music today.
The pressure was on Parker to deliver an album that was just as good, and maybe even better. How do you outdo the best work you’ve ever made? Well, Parker tries to do that with The Slow Rush.
Sadly, upon my first listen, I was mildly disappointed. So many of the things like the distorted guitar solos and ethereal time signatures that are quintessential to Parker’s sound have been traded in for more upbeat drums and deep funk basslines on The Slow Rush.
Parker’s last few albums could be considered a resurgence in psychedelic rock that, I would argue, were as important to the genre as someone like Jimi Hendrix or Jefferson Airplane. So, to get an album devoid of guitar, it was surprising.
Don’t let this scare you though! I think I truly started to appreciate the beauty of this album when I finally sat down and listened to the lyrics.
Parker has been known to be an honest and vulnerable lyricist throughout his fifteen-year-long career, but The Slow Rush takes it to an even more personal level. All of the songs on the album have to deal with time in some form or another.
It showed Parker’s journey with his feelings about the uncertainty of the future and what it might hold. Tracks such as “One More Year,” “Instant Destiny” and “Is It True” explore the identity of time as a continual presence and how overwhelming this presence can be in the face of commitment.
During Parker’s hiatus, he got married to his longtime girlfriend Sophie Lawrence, so a lot of these songs deal with the fears that come with choosing to spend the rest of your life with someone. It can be good or it can be bad, but mostly it’s just scary.
Tracks such as “Posthumous Forgiveness,” “Lost In Yesterday” and “Tomorrow’s Dust” deal with the ever-present feeling of nostalgia that is immediate in so many people’s lives. Parker makes the argument that nostalgia can be dangerous in the sense that people can spend so much time yearning for the past that you lose sight of what the future holds.
On the other side of the same coin, nostalgia can be used as a tool for healing and reparation between old friends and even family. If the past comes to visit you, Parker asks that you treat it like a gift and embrace the memories that it brings instead of repressing how you feel.
This album is many things but most importantly, it’s optimistic. You would think that topics such as the fleeting nature of life and uncertainties of matrimony would be melancholic, but it’s the exact opposite.
Tracks such as “Breathe Deeper,” “On Track” and “Glimmer” are shining lights that say, “Hey I feel like my world is falling apart, but it’s ok.” Parker wants the listener to realize that at the end of the day, life goes on. Things like paying bills and sour relationships may seem like the end of the world, they’re just minor setbacks on the greater path of life.
This album, while it might not be as musically “interesting” like Parker’s previous albums, it is an absolute beast to unpack. Parker tries to tackle some of life’s biggest questions and I think that he did a pretty good job of marrying the complex emotions of the human condition with sonically impressive music.
Some of my favorite tracks are “Lost in Yesterday,” “Posthumous Forgiveness,” “Is It True” and “One More Hour.” While all the songs are fairly satisfactory, I think that these are the songs that best exemplify the marriage of lyricism and musical complexity.
At the moment, do I like this album more than Currents? Well no, but I’m interested to see how my understanding of this album will change as I grow older and as I start to understand more of where Parker is coming from.
It’s also kind of an unfair comparison because they both have things about them that are good and bad, but I hope that my understanding and comprehension of this album has helped you come to more of a conclusion on how you feel about it.
Stream The Slow Rush on Spotify.
Featured image by Mekenzie Primm.