Unable to create meaningful sound

Unable+to+create+meaningful+sound

Photo courtesy of The Northern Express

As a group that pushes the limits of alternative rock, Tame Impala’s musical style is already an acquired taste for many. On their latest album “The Slow Rush,” they may have pushed too far with overly distorted production that I found unappealing.  

Kevin Parker–songwriter, singer and producer behind Tame Impala–is well known for his psychedelic sound; his previous album, “Currents,” was shaped by his experience listening to the Bee Gees while he was high.

On their latest album, however, I felt that over half of the 12 tracks intensified the psychedelic feel of “Currents,” but made it far less palatable. With several songs spanning six or seven minutes, I was bored for most of the album from repetitive drum beats and the unsatisfying production that seemed to never end. Many of the songs also feature clashing melodies and instrumentals that lacked direction. For the most part, tracks melded into one another without much variation, making many songs sound too similar.

In stark contrast to the other lackluster tracks, three songs, “It Might Be Time,” “Lost In Yesterday,” and “Borderline” redeem the album.

The third track, “Borderline,” pleasantly surprised me because of its distinct retro style. While I could tell that other songs tried to borrow elements from dance music of the past few decades, “Borderline” was one of the few that did it well due to the smooth balance of vocals and instrumentals. The laid-back drum beats and catchy melody also added to grooves that I could easily dance to.

Meanwhile, the eighth song, “Lost In Yesterday,” stood out for its upbeat and dynamic sounds. It maintains a dreamlike quality due to the carefully layered vocals and synth harmonies. I also really liked the complexity of the bass and percussion beats, as well as the electric guitar riffs that separated different verses.

Lastly, the tenth song, “It Might Be Time,” opened with 80’s electric keyboard that transitioned into clean vocals with minimalistic retro inspired production. As the song progressed, however, each line of melody became infused with more energy. Interestingly, I could feel faint traces of modern dance music being combined with the retro themes that Tame Impala used so generously throughout the album. Due to the engaging production that made use of different dynamics and articulation, “It Might Be Time” was one of my favorite tracks.  

As with many alternative artists, Tame Impala doesn’t focus on mass appeal. Regardless, I still found “The Slow Rush” a regression from past Tame Impala albums, like “Currents,” or the 2019 single “Patience.” While I have no doubt in Parker’s songwriting ability or musicality, I’ll wait to see if their future work suits my tastes better.