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TAME IMPALA The Slow Rush gets 8/10


Tame Impala

The Slow Rush
Modular/Island

8/10

True to its name, The Slow Rush was a protracted, unbearable wait. A full five years after the game-changing Currents, and after almost a year of slow-drip singles, Kevin Parker’s baby is finally upon us. Was it worth the wait?

The answer is yes. Just don’t consider Parker a modern saviour of rock music any longer. Stretching even further away from Tame Impala’s guitar-driven rock roots, this is instead an epic pop concept album and an amalgamation of as many musical influences as Parker could stuff into 60 minutes. Disco, funk, acid house, electronica, electro and soft rock all come together in a project that retains the ethereal Tame Impala sound while also being the most unashamedly poppy album of their career.

Almost every song is a self-contained pop gem. Opener One More Year is a beautiful dance track built around careening gated vocals and layers of synth. Instant Destiny has an ear-worm of a falsetto chorus that would be laughable if it wasn’t so catchy. Single Borderline is a bit pared back in its album form, but it’s still the finest pop track in the band’s career. Breathe Deeper is a bizarre electro-funk number with some great stabs of acid house piano and perhaps the most beautiful chorus on the album. Lead up singles Lost in Yesterday and It Might Be Time are both rollicking, electronic-tinged bangers, the latter being the best song Supertramp never wrote.

For all its pop strengths, this is a melancholy and inward-looking album that sees Parker reflecting on the passage of time. It’s no wonder given a whirlwind five years that have seen Tame Impala rise to global juggernauts (Coachella headliners, anyone?) and Kevin Parker become an in-demand producer. The Slow Rush presumably refers to the hurried nature of life against the intractable march of time, as Parker looks both backwards and forwards before settling on the present. Opener One More Year is about extending the hedonistic years of youth, yet its melancholy tone hints that it doesn’t last forever. It Might Be Time is the sobering counter-argument as the reality of growing up hits, while Lost in Yesterday chides against the intoxicating allure of overly rose-coloured nostalgia. Closer One More Hour comes full circle, a mature acknowledgement of time passed and passing. We’re finally looking forward to what’s ahead, “As long as I can be the man I am”.

There isn’t a single bad track here per se, but it must be said the album is a tad unadventurous when taken as a whole. It’s pristine to the point of feeling plastic at times, and by its hallway point Parker’s bag of musical tricks runs out and things get a bit predictable. There are no real sonic surprises here or any standout moments like the iconic synth riffs of Let It Happen. Some of these songs are a bit lazily written too, with Parker letting the old ‘vocals+reverb’ trick cover up some half-baked melodies. On Track is the worst offender, a flat-footed ballad that goes nowhere. Seven-minute closer One More Hour is no better. Its blasts of booming guitar and Wurlitzer (aka Supertramp) piano are cinematic, but as an actual song it meanders rather than builds.

Overall, this is a laudable arena-pop album that seamlessly combines a myriad of influences and some heady lyrical content without losing any of its shine. It’s sure to be the biggest Australian hit of the summer, and here’s hoping in time it proves to be the most influential too.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

The Slow Rush is out tomorrow, Friday, February 14.

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