Tame Impala: Lonerism

27 Nov

Lonerism is an album that I never saw coming from a band I never expected. The genre of psychedelic rock is usually associated with the peace-loving, long-haired acid casualties of 60s and 70s Americana, not 21st century bands from the land down under. And yet, Tame Impala, the project of Perth native Kevin Parker, captures the trippy, synth and sitar sound so well that it would be easy to mistake them for a genuine band of that era.

But, as greatly as I admired their musical craftsmanship, the album ultimately fell flat. Lonerism is constantly evoking the musical stylings of other recognisable artists, yet always seems to fall short of attaining that extra quality that elevated these other musicians from atmospheric to iconic. At times Tame Impala sounds like a lot like Jefferson Airplane, but Jefferson Airplane had the soaring contralto voice of Grace Slick that was so compelling. And so Lonerism comes up short – Parker’s reedy harmonies fall somewhere in between The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, and they might have worked if the album had a more minimalist sound. But almost every track plunges into the full and rich sound of psychedelic rock and Parker’s voice fades into the background. In the end the album achieves a kind of graceful ambience but lacks the distinctiveness that would have made it captivating.

By Tessa Clews

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