A&E

Tame Impala continues its steady ascent on latest album ‘Currents’

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Parker’s lyrics also focus on transformation.
Annie Zaleski

Tame Impala’s origin story is a thoroughly modern one: After cutting his teeth in the Perth, Australia, music scene, founder Kevin Parker posted some homespun bedroom recordings on MySpace, which landed the band a record deal. Paradoxically, his music has always taken its main cues from the past, specifically the psychedelic-rock and pop greats of the ’60s and ’70s. And clearly that retro bent hit a nerve: Albums like 2010’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism have not only had a massive impact on current indie rock trends, they’ve made Tame Impala to major festival draw.

This track record makes the sonic and perspective shifts of Currents feel that much braver. Tame Impala’s mesmerizing new album trades zoned-out guitars and shaggy rock touchstones for hypnotic electronic grooves, deep-space harmonies and wobbly synths; My Morning Jacket, Pink Floyd’s prog-electronic moments and M83 are prominent influences. Highlight “Let It Happen” is simmering Cold War disco with new wave keyboard blips. “The Moment” evokes Gary Numan with its warm keyboard squalls. “Love/Paranoia” is a slow-motion R&B jam, and “The Less I Know the Better” plays like shimmering ’80s funk-pop.

Appropriately, Parker’s lyrics also focus on transformation. “Feel like a brand-new person,” he croons on the molasses soul sprawl “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” while the soft-glow “Yes I’m Changing”—ostensibly a meditation on growing up and apart from someone else—feels like both a pre-emptive strike against critics and the thesis of the record: “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.”

Refreshingly, his declarations of independence aren’t defensive, an all-too-common approach; instead, Currents’ ruminations on emotional growth are direct and to-the-point. In short, Tame Impala’s career remains on a steady upward trajectory.

Tame Impala Currents Four stars

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