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Tame Impala's 'Currents' - A Contemporary Psychedelic Heartbreak

20/07/2015 13:07 BST | Updated 18/07/2016 10:59 BST

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Tame Impala's 2012 debut album, Lonerism, was a modernized psychedelic infusion of experimental prog rock and 60's emulation. Elephant captured their unique sound and remains the Australian band's biggest hit. The band has now returned with their second studio album, Currents.

Following Lonerism was always going to be a difficult feat. Just like 'Definitely Maybe', this debut album elevated the band's presence, earning them international recognition, captivating those who were awaiting a refreshingly new sound. Currents, which has the potential to be the band's 'What's The Story' debut follow-up, returns the band's psychedelic infused trademark signature but with an alternative approach.

Whilst Lonerism was a guitar-heavy album, Currents, steps away from guitar-rock and embraces synthesizers, 80's drum rhythms and other electronic sounds.

Let It Happen, the album's opening track, would not seem out of place on a Daft Punk record, due to its dubbed electronic drum beats and synth riffs. The whirling echoes permeating throughout Gossip suggests a lost-in-space feel, and the droning synth discords held underneath Yes I'm Changing would fit comfortably in an 80's techno ballad.

The clever thing about Currents and what Tame Impala does best is that the band incorporates all of these sounds symphonically, which establishes a psychedelic sound that feels fresh but familiar to the band. Kevin Parker, the band's leader and front man, has an ethereally feather-light voice, which sits above the band's unique instrumental infusion, has found a pleasant balance between eerie and dreamy. This mellifluous blend results in an unmistakably Tame Impala sound, despite using alternative instruments.

Each song takes the listener on a euphoric journey and it is upon which, we find heartbreakingly powerful lyrics, which are far more profound than Parker's lyrics on the band's debut album. 'I felt the strangest emotion but it wasn't hate, for once/Yes I'm changing, yes I'm gone/Yes I'm older, yes I'm moving on/And if you don't think it's a crime you can come along, with me' from Yes I'm Changing depicts the upwards struggle of overcoming a breakup, with the final line reflecting in the difficulty in parting forever. The Less I Know The Better tells the tale of unrequited love. 'Oh my love, can't you see yourself by my side/No surprise when you're on his shoulder like every night', reflects the agony of seeing a lover with someone else and the pain which must be endured during love in vain. Cause I'm A Man, one of the album's best tracks, portrays the self-hatred and struggle of heartbreak. 'Lost in the moment for a second time/Each fucking doubt I make, unleash a cry/I'm just pathetic, that's the reason why In desperation/all that you can do is ask me why', and 'But I have no voice if I don't speak my mind/My weakness is the source of all my pride, I'll tell you why', makes this song excruciatingly powerful.

This is not to say that this album is a Damien Rice depression-filled sinkhole. As already stated, the musical backbone of the album is generally upbeat, even when the lyrics are deeply moving. To me, this is where the album truly excels. Kevin Parker has developed his songwriting techniques to integrate more personified and poetic lyrics, whilst incorporating different instruments and sounds, all the while maintaining the band's iconic psychedelic sound.

8/10

Image: Stereogum