- 19 Feb 20
Psych-pop trailblazers return with vibrant fourth album.
Almost five years may have passed since Tame Impala last put out a new record, but the global pull of the band has failed to fade with time. Rather, the myth and mystique surrounding Kevin Parker’s genre-blurring project continues to snowball – with The Slow Rush an early contender for the most hotly anticipated release of the year.
As the lone-wolf mastermind behind all four Tame Impala albums, Parker has become the modern-day torchbearer for spacey psych-pop. With debut album Innerspeaker, he established himself as a stoner folk hero, supplying the laid-back indie soundtrack for post-barbecue smoking sessions around the world. Each subsequent release has seen him move further away from that initial sound – swapping out guitars for synths, and more eagerly embracing the pull of a great pop melody.
And while The Slow Rush is as close to glittering pop for the masses as Tame Impala have ever ventured, it simultaneously finds Parker at his most introspective and sonically bold. Richly textured and full of vibrant nods to his predecessors, opening track ‘One More Year’ immediately showcases his dazzling ability to build a unique sonic world with each song – experimenting with layers and space, while pulling from prog, psych, disco, R&B, EDM and soft rock.
‘Posthumous Forgiveness’ is one of the album’s most compelling moments, packed with raw vulnerability as Parker chronicles his strained relationship with his late father. He wears both his heart and his influences on his sleeve – exploring the overlap between the past and present by referencing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ as much as Childish Gambino’s ‘Redbone’.
‘It Might Be Time’, meanwhile, pays homage to Supertramp while incorporating EDM sirens, as Parker playfully taunts himself from his new career standpoint: “It might be time to face it/ You ain’t as cool as you used to be.”
True to the album’s title, time, memory and movement are concepts that get twisted and teased throughout The Slow Rush, as Parker reflects on his journey so far. Bookending the project with ‘One More Year’ and ‘One More Hour’ signals an acceptance of an impending finality – further referenced by the desert environment encroaching on humanity in the album artwork.
Despite increasingly gearing their sound towards a mass audience, Tame Impala’s fearless foray into unapologetic pop results in some of their most substantial work yet.