Kevin Parker has morphed into his own musical monolith. With every Tame Impala album continually twisting musical boundaries and exponentially experimenting every corner of Parker’s imaginative mind, new album The Slow Rush does not disappoint the five year wait since critically acclaimed Currents. With The Slow Rush globally topping album charts, has Parker now cemented himself as a world class wizard of modern music?
Has Kevin Parker now certified himself as world master wizard in modern music? Well yes, he already did, but the world did not know it just yet.
Recorded, produced and mixed by one man, Kevin Parker’s fourth Tame Impala album The Slow Rush has claimed the no.1 spot on the ARIA Album Chart making it the second chart-topping ARIA album for Tame Impala. Tame Impala’s third album Currents debuted no.1 in 2015. Globally the album debuted No.2 in Belgium and Netherlands, No.3 in the U.K, Ireland, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada, No.5 in Norway, No.7 in Germany and Japan, No.8 in Sweden, No.9 in Austria, No. 11 in France, No. 12 in Finland and Top 20 in Italy. The Slow Rush rocketed to No. 3 in the US, making it the highest charting album debut for Tame Impala on the Billboard 200.
Is The Slow Rush better than Currents?
Is The Slow Rush a better album than Currents? Yes and no and yes. There is no justification in saying that a Tame Impala album is bad or inferior in comparing them because each album phases into new territory and achieve an intrinsic sound that Kevin Parker sets himself to be challenged by. But The Slow Rush could stand as Tame Impala’s most recent magnum opus.
Parker is a constant tinkerer of sound and he takes time for one person to masterfully craft a rich perfecting sounding album. No wonder fans were waiting five years for the next album. But the theme of time was central to the subject matter of the new album.
Parker addresses the eternal enemy of perfectionists everywhere: time. He struggled with it himself, considering The Slow Rush arrives five years after Currents, the album that made his one-man band more famous than he could’ve imagined. – Pitchfork
In Currents the album definitely dived straight into experimentation. Currents demonstrated Kevin Parker’s virtuosity as a composer and a progressive genre bending machine. The album was pure experimental in terms of mixing different genres, from R&B and Neo-Psychedelia, to Psych Rock, and Pop combining it all into a Dance oriented feel.
As Currents developed more autobiographical lyrically the album on a whole felt Parker was cementing his own sound on his own terms. Currents was a blending pysch rock,pop-dance record, and with songs like ‘Cause I’m A Man,’ “Eventually,’ and ‘The Less I Know The Better’. The main theme of that album was the dissolution of a personal romantic relationship.
Taking on this personal experience and interweaving it into the experimentation of genre conventions convinced listeners and critics of Parker’s genius modernising music. Rolling Stone said, ‘Tame Impala’s third studio album, goes further, evoking Prince more than Pink Floyd’, while Pitchfork reviewed the album as a modern changing ‘psych-disco hybrid’ and a ‘transitional album.’
If Currents was a transitional album then The Slow Rush does go further, showing the next phase of Kevin Parker’s maturing musicianship.
The Slow Rush is its own identity and listeners are transcended to another dimension when listening to it. Each Tame Impala album is its own but Kevin Parker surpasses each incarnation. The first two albums Innerspeaker and Lonerism felt like a two part story where they emphasised on blending psychedelic rock, the influences of The Beatles and Pink Floyd and exploring feelings of existential teenage/young adulthood isolation.
On the first two Tame Impala albums, Riley Fitzgerald of Cosmic Magazine asserts, ‘InnerSpeaker started with a confused twenty-something who wasn’t sure of himself or the world around him. Lonerism took that inward-looking sentiment further and launched headlong into a mind-bending exploration of the feeling of isolation.’
Currents and The Slow Rush phased entirely into a different realm of sound and genre from the first two. The most recent two albums represent an older Kevin Parker and one who looks back into his past. The albums share a similar structure of being a sort of two chapter type journey but they are different because The Slow Rush seems to mature in saturation (story telling wise) and this pushes the album a step forward from Currents.
In comparing The Slow Rush to its predecessors, the album is capable of standing strong on its own. In The Slow Rush there is more of an emphasis on the instrumental arrangement of rhythms and sounds than on Parker’s own lyricism. But each time you go back to listen to the same song it feels different than before because you hear something you didn’t hear before. Parker has a skill of hiding things in an envelop and letting it all unfold bit by bit.
In discussing the new album with GQ earlier in Janurary, Parker aimed to create something divergent, saying, “I used a lot of synths and drum machines and synthetic stuff on Currents, but for this one, I wanted it to have a lot of real-sounding instruments, but still sound like Tame Impala.”
Listeners got that first taste when Kevin Parker released the single ‘Patience’ near the end of 2019. The signature Tame Impala sound was there but there was a hint of change given from Currents.
The Slow Rush has this abundance of joy, calm and element of surprise to it. Songs like ‘One More Year,’ ‘Instant Destiny’ and ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’ are those Tame Impala songs that invite you into Kevin Parker’s unique ‘Pink Floydish’ imagination. While songs such as ‘Borderline,’ ‘Breathe Deeper’ and ‘Glimmer’ have that reminiscent dance pop feel of Currents.
While Currents focused its theme on love/broken romantic relationships, The Slow Rush focuses on the inevitability of time. And as Kevin Parker reaches well into his mid thirties, his perspective and age is reflected on this album there is indeed a shift into embracing adulthood and leaving youth.
The song ‘Lost In Yesterday’ reflects on good and bad memories. Parker offers catchy Beatles-esque lyricism. His storytelling cleverly shows that Parker understands that good memories serve a constructive role in life and that sometimes the bad experiences can gradually serve as the same and come to an appreciation of it in a more-positive light.
The standout track which demonstrates Parker’s maturity and songwriting abilities would be ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’. It is a type of song he would not be capable of writing early in his career as he explains in an interview with Triple J. The song tests the limits of Kevin Parker’s imagination but also assesses deep into his own personal life. The track details Parker’s estrangement towards his dead father Jerry. It was Kevin Parker’s dad who introduced him to music and taught him how to play guitar. In the song Parker emotionally lists the achievements and failures Parker never got tell his father but forgives him of leaving him early in his youth.
Kevin Parker reasons to himself that, “Everything I do has to be experimental in some way, I detest the idea of just doing what you know.” It feels with every Tame Impala that has been released upon the world so far has gone accordingly to his own free will and his own musical vision. There has not been an upset or knockback from fans or from Parker’s imagination. With the first two albums receding into an adulation of progressively being great underrated psychedelic prog-rock albums, the most recent two will continue to turn heads and spin ears to global audience. In modern contemporary music, Parker does cement himself as one of the forefront musical titans of the past decade and the next.
Subscribe to FIB’s Weekly Alchemy Report for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!