2010 saw a little-known band from Perth, Western Australia, named after a medium sized antelope, make one of the biggest debut impacts the land down-under had seen in a long time. Headed up by Kevin Parker, (who began his ascent into music in 2005 with the blues / jazz / psychedelic outfit, The Dee Dee Dums), Tame Impala came together in 2007 and just a year later saw them signed with the progressive label, Modular Recordings. Their first recording soon followed, a self titled EP, firmly cementing their style and showcasing their considerable skill and talent. Supporting acts such as Aussie pop-rockers You Am I, and The Black Keys, MGMT and Yeasayer, Tame Impala were soon selling out their own national tours and touring the UK to much acclaim.

Innerspeaker was released to massive critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone naming it album of the year. Thus much pressure, as is the way it goes, has been placed upon this second LP, and the final product is something that stands tall and holds its own against the huge amount of indie pop out there and also Tame Impala’s own back catalogue. Parker has said of the pop elements in Lonerism; “For me I love everything; every kind of element available. I would never do a pop melody just to sell more records or anything. I genuinely love the emotion that a pop song can use to touch me. Pop music is in a way so much more pure than all other types of music – there’s no intellectual level; it’s just pure feelings.”

‘Be Above It’ begins Lonerism with a looped whisper that gains momentum, is joined by percussion and warbling synths as the track takes off. Parker recorded ambient sounds straight to a Dictaphone in random locations, wherever they occurred and appealed to him. One of these recordings can be found on this song, that of a person walking as Parker stuck his old-school recording device out of a hotel window; “The street had a weird shape to it and it had a cool reverb whenever someone walked by. You see that run through the album.” ‘Keep On Lying’ fades up straight into Parker’s vocals, as if it has been playing and someone has just turned up the radio. He has included ambient Dictaphone recordings here also of people chatting at a party, you can almost see the bell-bottoms, tie-dye and corduroy and smell the fondue. This track is light on the vocals and heavy on the jamming, something that was more prolific on the original cut of the album before editing saw them relinquished to future b-sides. Recording and utilising found sound has been something that Parker has said to be obsessed with. Trains, megaphones, “For me it’s like taking photos. I love the idea of recording a collection or a library of weird sounds or stuff”.

‘Apocalypse Dreams’ is heavy on piano chords and thunders along, shifting gears and pace several times highlighting Parker’s vocals with loops and layers to great affect. ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me?’ washes back and forth like a tide, “I’m so alone / Nothing for me / Lonely old me / I thought I was happy”. It recalls the album title, the feeling of isolation in a world so crowded with noise, fast paced imagery, and endless ways of connecting through technology; so easy and yet so shallow. Text, tweet, Skype, message, anything but sit down and communicate face to face in the flesh. On ‘Elephant’ Parker sings “He’s got friends but you get the feeling / That they wouldn’t care too much if he’d just disappear”. People have hundreds, often thousands of so-called ‘Friends’ on Facebook, who would notice if one of them disappeared indeed? Unlikely. This track is an album highlight with a swagger and hooks that are as strong as anything we have heard this year.

‘Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Can Control’ has it all, crashing cymbals, layers of reverb, warbling synths, it’s the longest track coming in at six minutes complete with false ending. Concluding things is ‘Suns Coming Up’, much simpler in structure than everything else, and a breath of fresh air after the sonic barrage preceding it. Vocals and piano, that’s it, for the most part. The last two minutes introduces electric guitar and the sound of Parker walking down to his local Perth beach finishing up with the sounds of girls chatting with the wind heard in the background. Beautiful. I saw Tame Impala play their very first gig of their world tour off the back of Innerspeaker in Adelaide two years ago. The gig was amazing, and I was left wondering what the tour had in store for them, with so much stretching out ahead of them as they toured the rest of Australia, then North America and on to Europe. Lonerism is a product of that tour and their rise as a band, and of Parker as a singer -songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Their rise is still ascending, and the future is bright for these young Australians.

Dave Roberts – December 5, 2012


Apocalypse Dream

Tame Impala (AUS)
From the album, ‘Lonerism’, Modular

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