Tame Impala: Lonerism Review (3 Takes)
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are three reactions, three impressions, three takes on Lonerism by Tame Impala.
STEVE SKAVNAK (@steveskavnak)
I’m new to Tame Impala’s world. Typically, any band that has ‘psychedelic’ in its genre descriptor is one that beckons me to guffaw before I even give them a chance. Such was not the case with these Aussies, though…and I’m thankful for that. Tame Impala’s fuzz isn’t over the top like Ariel Pink’s, and their ability to shift time signatures is much more subtle than Akron/Family’s. Simply put, they’re not psychedelic for the sake of being psychedelic.
Lonerism feels like effortless travel. Tame Impala explicitly explore their instruments and create sounds that haven’t been invented yet, all as each lush track burns meticulously into the next. Maybe this isn’t true psychedelia, or maybe I just like mine a little more reserved. There’s no doubt I’d rather watch a lava lamp bubble slowly than see Wavy Gravy ride the Tilt-a-Whirl after a Fun Dip binge. The slow sizzle but spectacular payoff of Lonerism definitely falls into the former.
After their album Innerspeaker, it has been quite awhile since we heard from them, and many folks were left anxiously anticipating their new album. The fact that it still maintains the rustic AM-rock sounding aesthetic, paired with wonderful and psychedelic arrangements proves that with Lonerism, Tame Impala’s newest effort, that the band hasn’t lost a step. The whispers in “Gotta Be Above It” paired with its energetic percussive work and woozy synthwork, but in addition, one could take those lyrics as a sort of mission statement for Lonerism. Additionally the barrelling drumrolls in “Endors Toi” and “Mind Mischief” work to the band’s advantage, giving many of the instruments a lot of breathing room, and who couldn’t see “Music To Walk Home By” being something of a soundtrack for those late weekend nights? All in all, Tame Impala has yet to disappoint, and Lonerism serves as their strongest statement yet.
In calling Innerspeaker, the debut LP from Austrilian pysch-pop outfit Tame Impala, my favorite record of 2010, I said “it isn’t a game changer, just an incredibly solid album start to finish.” I’m not sure why I picked an album that “wasn’t a game changer” for my top pick, but I still do really like that album. Referencing this strangely tepid description (for my album of the year?!), I have to say that their follow up LP is as good or better, expanding the groups sound and creating another record that, while not being my top record of the year (or even top 10), with definitely find a spot in my fall and winter heavy rotation.
The band jump right out of the gate with the sprite, colorful and whimsy “Apocalypse Dreams,” which finds them creating another slab of their effect laden ear candy. The band still has lush melodies wrapped in lush layers of Technicolor haze, mimicking the best of the long forgotten flower child days of the late 1960’s. The rest of the album continues this study of how to make music that is easy to like from the start without falling into the “too easy” trap. Highlights range from the gentle, Revolver era Beatles jam “Sun’s Coming Up” to the fuzzy guitar freak out of “Keep on Lying” and back to the scooped out guitar siren on “Endors Toi.” The record reaches it high-water mark with the stunning “Feels like we only go backwards,” which not only is a highlight of the record, but one of the best songs I have heard all year. While the band will not be two time winners of “best album proclamation from Josh” award, Lonerism certainly is an excellent, enjoyable record that will sit proudly next to the bands debut LP showcasing a band that, two records in, has proved to be one of the very best at what they do.