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Album Review // TAME IMPALA ‘The Slow Rush’

Returning with a long-waited Tame Impala’s fourth psychedelic new wave synth-pop album, The Slow Rush, Kevin Parker reflects on his past, ‘seeing his life flash before his eyes’.

Tame Impala The Slow Rush 2020

Five years went past since Kevin Parker officially and deservedly took over the psych pop and indie world with contemporary successful album Currents which saw him and his band tour arenas around the world, headline major festivals (Coachella, Primavera, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury) and collaborate with A-listers such as Lady Gaga, Kanye West, and Travis Scott – a level that not even Parker himself thought he would ever reach. As with his previous albums Currents, Lonerism, and Innerspeaker, he continues to rely on himself to write, perform and produce the distinctive music that he explains to be “the kind of music that is the result of one person constructing an awesome symphony of sound. You can layer your own voice 700 times for half a second if you want, and I just love that kind of music.” Similarly to its 2015 predecessor, the Australian songwriter seems to has followed the same process with his new project, The Slow Rush, by keeping the unique ethereal sonics, signature thick bass and mesmerising falsettos but with an evident upbeat electronic disco effect twist.

“A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes”, says the producer and the theme of the LP is definitely evident on the album’s name and its cover, but also on the titles of the songs, starting with a chillwave introduction by One More Year. Its smooth tempo and choppy synths are met by a relaxing robotic voiceover repeating the track’s title in the background; a combination which gives the perfect glimpse of what’s about to come for the next fifty three minutes.

Tackling the recurring theme of his father’s loss and his past turbulent relationship with him makes single Posthumous Forgiveness the lyrical peak of the album as he pours his heart out while going backwards in time, owing the inspiration to “Wrestling with demons of the past. Something from a long time ago doesn’t add up. I was lied to! Maybe there’s a good explanation but I’ll never get to hear it, so it’s up to me to imagine what it might sound like…” The woozy bass, wailing synths and gentle soulful sound make this a harmonic soundtrack to Parker’s heartfelt thinking, “(This time) Wanna tell you ’bout the time / (I know) I was in Abbey Road / All the time that I had / Mick Jagger on the phone / I thought of you when we spoke.”

Breather Deeper offers a more danceable funky bass line to the album, featuring prominent 90s piano chords, whereas successor Tomorrow’s Dust is a more easy listening sound, thriving on acoustic guitars and silky vocals. A glimpse of Kevin’s pure thought process of his work/life journey comes on next atmospherically kaleidoscopic song On Track as he explains it’s “A song for the eternal optimist. The pain of holding on to your dreams. Anyone would say it’s impossible from this point. True will take a miracle, but miracles happen all the time. I’m veering all over the road and occasionally spinning out of control, but strictly speaking I’m still on track.”

Now there is “Nothing left to do, but sit and observe the stillness of everything as time races faster than ever”, says the Tame Impala creator as we come to closing track One More Hour – an explosive giant sound with outstanding guitar work, prominent drums and piano synths that bring that ‘wow’ factor to the ending of the album and also a touch of bittersweet Lonerism memories. “I did it for love (All that I have) / I did it for fun (One more hour) / Couldn’t get enough (All that I have) / I did it for fame (One more hour) / But never for money / Not for houses, not for her / Not for my future children / Until now.”

Although a follow-up to an album as successful and impactful as Currents is not easy, Kevin Parker trusted his instinct once again, pushed his boundaries and managed to create yet another distinguishing Tame Impala record heavy on strong and melodic beats, proving to those who doubted him that he is not ready to be dethroned yet.