Some bands you listen to and enjoy but they never seem to latch on to you in a personal way. Tame Impala is not one of those bands. Since arriving on the scene in 2009 with “Innerspeaker,” the band, which is to say Parker himself, have gradually changed our perceptions of psyche rock and lovelorn melodies that can be at times infectious and daunting in terms of musical I.Q. Today we deliver the ten best tracks from the first four impeccable Tame Impala albums.
10 ONE MORE YEAR: THE SLOW RUSH
“One More Year,” which opens The Slow Rush, has the kind of layered soundwave that Kevin Parker has become known for, but it's more mellow and beach centric than earlier works, but its the type of gradual change we should be used to by this point. What once was a full fledged indie rock psych project has turned into something more meaningful, more purposeful in their execution, and way more layered and dance oriented than anyone expected the band and its creator to embrace.
9 BORDERLINE: THE SLOW RUSH
Plenty of folks apparently didn’t latch on to this record like Parker’s previous three, but there are plenty of great songs to go around. “Borderline” is probably the best track on the album, with its synth dance vibes and difficult to pin down lyrics. It’s a song about the dangers of contentment, and what may come out of that feeling. You can tell during the song that feeling of uncertainty even though he’s grateful to have found a worthy life partner. Again all of this is done on the shoulders of Kevin Parker, who’s mastery in songwriting is now very well documented. “Slow Rush” and its parts might not be masterpiece worth, but tracks like “Borderline” show no less skill or attention than what we’ve become accustomed to when it comes to Tame Impala
8 APOCALYPSE DREAMS: LONERISM
Like a sun suddenly appearing in the sky at full strength, “Apocalypse Dreams,” roars into ears and explores the mind of Kevin Parker, and what he’s capable of. The track has this frollicking aspect to it that also renders the song in the best way possible. The lyrics, as well as the vocal harmony Kevin engages evoke some of the best moments of the record, but the real prize doesn’t hit until the second half of the song. After the slow strung guitars comes and goes, the track is propelled by the drums, all leading to a bright explosion of energy as the song heads quickly into a sundrenched, mind altering field of sound
7 EVENTUALLY: CURRENTS
Songs like “Eventually” drill the notion home that mistakes happen and that everyone will “Eventually” make their way through the downsides of failed love. When Parker croons “But I know that I'll be happier and I know you will too,” you feel the relief of knowing that even though it sucks at this moment, it does eventually become better. I, for one, can fully understand the concept of moving on is easier if I never knew a person, but with all that hard work, you’re able to grow and set out on a new path with your remade self to attempt to make something work in this toxic, never good enough world.
6 LOST IN YESTERDAY: THE SLOW RUSH
Much of the vibe surrounding the “the Slow Rush” revolves around tightly arranged dance notes, with more upbeat elements than on previous efforts. We already talked about this in some length earlier in this piece, but “Lost in Yesterday,” likely the best track of the album for my money, deals with lyrical content that's rooted in real life stresses and turmoil about the future that faces all of us. It’s easy to get lost (no pun intended) during the four minute run time, most likely because of the infectious beat, but seeing the song live, with a full band and a light show that would make Pink Floyd jealous, really is something that takes your breathe away.
5 ALTER EGO: INNERSPEAKER
On early records Parker had to do more with less in terms of production quality, however, that doesn’t stop him from executing a song that can still draw you in. The song itself relies more on the vast musical labyrinth of styles and less of the lyrical aspects, but this is still something Tame can do very well. The lyrics are important, but by the time Parker’s voice comes in you’re already hooked in by the majestic nature of the dense, all surrounding instrumentation. It’s an early sign of what he’s capable of, and thankfully for us he hasn’t lost a single step on subsequent releases.
4 LET IT HAPPEN: CURRENTS
When I first heard this song, honestly, I was not a fan. The music didn’t remind me of what had come before, and the more dancey, electronic vibe turned me off. Not that it was bad, but it wasn't the Tame I had fallen in love with on the previous two albums. But, after multiple listens, and hearing the album presented in full, it suddenly made sense. This album, and this track especially was Tame Impala opening themselves up and rising in the world of thought provoking music. The success of the albums rides on the popularity of the first track, and “Let it Happen,” with all of its meandering and chasing of holes, comes through in a big way, and shows the band is capable of so much more.
3 ELEPHANT: LONERISM
There’s so so so much amazing happening in this song it’s hard to figure out a starting point. Obviously, a big part of the song is the fact that it very much lives up to its title. As a track,”Elephant” hurdles through the wild, violently and strongly pushing limits, with full sets of lumbering giants pummeling through whatever gets in its way. The live version also has a wicked cool instrumental section that only elevates the energy of the song. The drum roll through the verses is also brilliantly laid out, while Kevin’s vocals sound as pure and fun as they ever get. The best lines though come toward the end of the bridge, making its way to the song conclusion. The word pay during the segment about pulling off the mirrors of his Cadillac (YEAH!), are some of the best lines in any song I’ve ever heard.
2 FEELS LIKE WE ONLY GO BACKWARDS: LONERISM
For many people, this was the song where they suddenly became aware of the majestic mode of storytelling that Impala lays out. The dinging opening, the lush overlaid guitars and bass, and the minimal but effectiveness of the drumming all make the song one of the best by the band. When Parker bellows the chorus, and various other sections you can grasp and understand the weariness permanent in the song structure. So many of their songs go hand in hand with raw emotion, of guilt, second thoughts, and other feelings that it eventually becomes your song too. It’s amazing, and it’s a song that still gets all the love it deserves.
1 THE LESS I KNOW THE BETTER: CURRENTS
The argument could be made that without this song this record wouldn’t have been nearly the juggernaut it was, and while that may be slightly true, “Current is full to the brim with incredible songs.” However, this song has so much working for it that it’s nearly impossible to ignore. Let’s start with the 70’s stylings on guitar as the depth of the song opens up into a strange disco vibe, but it’s the lyrics that pull you in and embrace you. It’s a sad song that we all can relate to, the moment when your brain syncs in with your heart and you’re aware that the end of whatever you had with a person is over. It’s important to stress that anxiety but also to embrace it in hopes of getting better. Parker’s voice is top notch 100% here, and with this gorgeous balance among his word play and juxtaposition between trying to be free of the pain but also to learn from it, the song is able to transcend all modern music and make a song that you can feel as part of your soul. Thanks for reading!
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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