Album Review: Currents by Tame Impala

It doesn’t matter what kind of music you’re into – everyone loves them some Tame Impala.  The band’s first two albums consisted of earthly, melodic psychedelic rock, and they were pretty fucking great. In fact, their sophomore effort, 2012’s Lonerism is one of the few classics of this decade.

Fast forward to March 2015 – Tame Impala release their earth-shattering single, “Let It Happen”.  You know that first day of spring when the sun is shining, you have unlimited energy, and you’re in a great mood?  Yeah, that’s what “Let It Happen” sounds like.  The spazzy guitars… the ethereal synths… the slapping drums… What the fuck is this sorcery?

This is music of the times, my man.

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I had that track on nonstop repeat for months. It sounds like watching a gorgeous sunrise while you’re peaking on MDMA. Pure ecstasy and euphoric bliss.

And the lyrics… Kevin Parker channels some sort of divine spirit into a soaring, angelic falsetto:

It’s always around me, all this noise
But not really as loud as the voice saying
Let it happen, let it happen (It’s gonna feel so good)
Just let it happen, let it happen

All this running around
I can’t fight it much longer
Something’s trying to get out
And it’s never been closer

Yeah, man. I feel that shit.  The feeling that your life has been building towards something that has been suppressed, finally being released. It’s the sound of letting go of any sort of inhibitions and just saying, “let it happen”.

In the second half of this psych-electro behemoth, the track morphs into a Daft Punk-esque vocoder-driven hypnotic dance jam. The fact that an indie band called Tame Impala can release a nearly eight minute non-mainstream track that gets played on my college bar’s dance floor goes to show how undeniably awesome it is.

Let It Happen is so great that even if the rest of the album were 40 minutes of recorded snoring from a fat man with sleep apnea, I would still call Currents a good album.

Lucky for us, the rest of Currents is pretty damn awesome.

Track three, The Moment, is a pretty dope Michael Jackson-meets modern recording type of dance track. Following suit, the rest of the album also follows this theme of 80’s pop sensibilities combined with Parker’s modern psych-rock expertise. With a sexy dash of R&B, too.

Next, we have the slowed-down standout, “Yes, I’m Changing”. If you’re ever feeling in a contemplative, transitory period in life, throw this track on and go for a night drive. Trust me. The whole gist of the song is giving a middle finger to what people expect you to be and embracing who you truly are, for better or for worse. And of course, the instrumentation is downright gorgeous.

Furthermore, a night drive in the car is the perfect setting to grasp the magnificence that is Currents. Here’s a visual representation of what that listening experience feels like:

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At track five is the epically shimmering “Eventually”, in which Parker pretty much says, ‘aight girl, enough is enough, I’m moving on and I’ll get over it’. Smooth move, in my opinion. Instead of being some sort of depressing ballad dwelling on heartbreak, it puts a pretty positive spin on the ordeal. Light at the end of the tunnel type shit. I should really show this track to some guys I know.

Between Let It Happen, Yes, I’m Changing, and Eventually, there is an overarching theme of leaving behind a past life in search of self-discovery and spiritual freedom. I can relate to that.

This concept seems to unfortunately disappear after Eventually as the albums gets a little more emotional and nostalgic.

Midway through, we have another heavy-hitter, “The Less I Know The Better”, where Parker croons over a groovy, head-nod inducing bass line.  To follow the whole heartbreak theme, he sings from some weak guy’s perspective as he finds out some girl he’s in love with is cheating on him. Ouch, dude. Catchy tune nonetheless.

“Disciples” is short little nod back to the pre-Currents psych-rock era of Tame Impala.

Then is the 80’s stoner sesh slow jam, “Cause I’m a Man”. As the name implies, Kevin Parker is singing unapologetically about his manhood over a glimmering 80’s prom night under the stars type of instrumental.

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Resemble anything?

The penultimate track, “Love/Paranoia”, is downright stunning, really encapsulating the sonic themes of the record and putting Parker’s recording talents on full display. The song goes through transitions between spaced out, minimal, contemplative instrumentation into moments of twinkling sentimentality.

I’ve heard those words before
Are you sure it was nothing
Cause it made me feel like dying inside
Never thought I was insecure, but it’s pure
Didn’t notice until I was in love for real
And if we’re gonna cross the line
Just to find what shit’s happening
If only I could read your mind
Oh I’d be fine, I’d be normal
Now’s my time, gonna do it

Sounds like something I’d write as a naively sappy seventeen year old. Regardless, it’s beautiful.

Currents is indeed incredibly sappy and cheesy at times, but manages to own it by being such a sonic masterpiece. To give the album a fair listen, first, you need to hear it at night. And second, you either need to be in the car on a night drive or have some A1 quality headphones (I’m not talking about those garbage Dr. Dre Beats, either).

If you know a friend going through a tough time or a break up, do them a favor and slide them a copy of this record (if they have good music sensibilities, that is). It seems to be written for just that state of mind.

What this album really proves is Kevin Parker’s musical prowess, ability to branch out into a different genre, and totally murder it.  If Lonerism was sunny-day psych rock, Currents is cosmic nighttime bliss.

Should be interesting to see what he’s got up his sleeve for LP #4.

From the energizing euphoria of Let It Happen, through the late-night reflection of Yes, I’m Changing, to the downright dreamy Love/Paranoia, Currents is one record that you just can’t miss.

RATING:  9

Favorite Tracks

  • Let It Happen
  • Yes, I’m Changing
  • The Less I Know the Better
  • Love/Paranoia

Skippable

  • Past Life
  • Reality In Motion

 

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