Kevin Parker, the mastermind behind Tame Impala, has had quite the career. Since starting the indie psych-rock project, he has released three albums, all beloved by critics and fans alike, has reached a level of success that few ever even sniff (thanks to, for the most part, the critical and commercial success of 2015’s Currents), had a song covered by Rihanna, and has headlined sets such as Coachella and Glastonbury. He has worked with the likes of top-tier artists such as Travis Scott—he is credited for much of the psychedelic sound on Scott’s Astroworld, specifically on “Skeletons.”
All in all, Parker has seen more success with this outfit than he probably ever imagined, and all the praise is justified. He has created a very unique act. With the release of his newest album, The Slow Rush, Parker has once again created something that is distinctly Tame Impala.
Ever the perfectionist, Parker struggled with this album. In an interview with Uproxx in early February, Parker explained the work that’s gone into The Slow Rush. “I thought I could finish it in a month,” he said, before explaining that it actually took him around eight to finish the project, blaming himself for being “lost in [his] own head.”
“That’s just the kind of delusion that comes with making an album all by yourself, is not knowing where the f—k you are in the progress of it,” Parker said.
This theme of isolation is present throughout the album, which is centered around the concept of time. Over the course of 12 songs, Parker delves deep into this idea, rummaging through his own psyche, looking at past experiences, future worries, and the often suffocating experience of solitude. Ever the eclectic producer, Parker digs into his bag of tricks to produce the uniquely Tame Impala sound, while also experimenting with and building on his established foundation. The trippy sound remains, but in a much more reserved way compared to Currents.
Parker is more introspective than ever, and the production mirrors the shift, as it allows his words to ring out clearly as he tackles the issues that have been plaguing him. A standout track is “Posthumous Forgiveness,” a song in which Parker sings about his late, estranged father who passed away in 2009 from skin cancer. The song is split into two very distinct sounds.
At first, Parker recounts how much he revered his father when he was younger before critiquing him for his missteps. More than halfway through the song, the beat switches entirely, becoming softer as he reminisces on the time he spent with his father. “Just a boy and a father / What I’d give for another,” Parker sings, mourning his father’s passing. Time is once again referenced, as Parker begs for more time with his father, something he acknowledges is tragically impossible.
The album isn’t all doom and gloom though. Parker acknowledges the bright side of time: its ability to allow one to grow and improve. On tracks such as “Breathe Deeper,” he bemoans the prevalence of negative situations and stress inducers, but preaches the importance of remaining calm in the face of adversity—these problems, like everything else in life, will pass. Parker expands on this theme with standout “On Track,” in which he opines on the importance of perseverance. The production on this track is perfectly fitting, as it starts off incredibly slow before building itself up as Parker continues, almost reinforcing his belief in the fact that “strictly speaking, [he’s] still on track.”
Many of the songs on The Slow Rush require multiple listens, and while a bit disorienting at first, they grow on you with every listen. They’re the type of songs that stick with you, given their moving subject matter and smooth, richly produced sounds. Parker took somewhat of a new direction with this album, and while it’s impossible to predict where he’ll go with his sound in the future, it’s definitely worth the wait to find out.
Featured Image by Interscope Records