Tame Impala are on a roll. 2010’s Innerspeaker must have been a tough act to follow, but they have done so magnificently. Although Lonerism isn’t a massive departure, it seems to be a natural progression for the band. They still make the same soaring psychedelia, but they’ve developed and refined it to create something quite remarkable.
To toss Tame Impala into the “Just another psych-rock revival band” pile would be a travesty. What makes them special is the fact that their aim is not to exactly recreate the psychedelic sounds of the 60s and 70s, but push the boundaries of what psychedelia can achieve, constantly innovating and experimenting. They make the most of modern technology to develop and enhance their sound.
Lonerism opens with the chants of ‘Be Above It’. It is soaked in effects, and the quiet mantra of “gotta be above it” is mesmerising. The tone is slightly different from the rest of the album, but this only makes it all the more memorable; the perfect opener. In ‘Endors Toi’, the tone for the rest of the album is set: swooping, electronic, distortions galore. Kevin Parker’s vocals are understated, sometimes they almost fade into being just another instrument, adding to the fascination and ambiguity of the songs. The middle section of the album, from ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ through to ‘Keep On Lying’ continues to develop and build on the sonic themes introduced in the beginning of the album. ‘Why Won’t You Talk To Me’ is as catchy as it is compelling. These songs seem to melt into one delightful, swirling, continuous wave of sound which is rich, and marvellously trippy.
The clear highlight of the album for me is ‘Elephant’. Although this is a more pop oriented track and the psychedelia is toned down somewhat, there is a definite hint of ‘I Am The Walrus’ in there. Fast paced and exciting, the relentless, driving beat is irresistible, and it is easily the catchiest song on the album. Album closer ‘Sun’s Coming Up’ is worth mentioning too. The simple piano and Parker’s echoing vocals in the first half are haunting and surreal. When this gives way in the second half to entrancing effects drenched guitars, in constitutes the perfect end to a near-perfect album.
Despite the title and subject matter of the album, it manages not to be depressing. In fact, the record is inexplicably uplifting. For Tame Impala, Lonerism is an absolute and undeniable triumph.
Released on 5th October 2012 by Modular Recordings