Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
Harry Milburn 14/05/2010
Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream…because John Lennon's back from the dead and he's singing psychedelia. I lie, of course, but once the first few tracks of Tame Impala's 'Innerspeaker' have spiralled around your brain for a while you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. You see, Tame Impala's Kevin Parker sounds like John Lennon. Infact, almost unnervingly so.
Ignoring the whole 'Lennon in heaven?' thing isn't easy with Tame Impala; but it is necessary, because 'Innerspeaker' is not the work of lysergide-dropping hippies at all (at least not ones who were around in the 60s anyway.) Rather, it is the debut album of an impossibly young Australian trio based in Perth; seemingly intent on summoning that Woodstock spirit with their hazy, production-heavy panning psychedelia- albeit with the suspicion of a scouse accent.
And for the most part they do it incredibly well. The album's production is authentically fuzzy in a kind of multi-tracked, tape on loop kind of way; and on tracks such as 'Solitude Is Bliss' and 'Desire Be Desire Go' they show a strong sense of melody despite all the distortion and dissonance. Infact, the harmonies at one point of 'Alter Ego' are more reminiscent of something from 'With The Beatles' than any of the Fab Four's trippier stuff. The stand out moment is undoubtedly 'Solitude Is Bliss'- 'there's a party in my head and nobody's invited'. You half expect somebody in twenty years time to unmask the truth- that what we were actually listening to was an undiscovered Beatles B-side in the vain of 'Rain' all along. It's hard to think of a bigger compliment than that.
It's not all Summer Of Love and hallucinogens, however; although when the Tame Impala strays from its comfort zone it is largely to the detriment of the album. The band seem to momentarily forget they aren't the Strokes as they launch into an 'Is This It?'-style garage rock intro on 'Lucidity'. Its only because Parker's nasal enunciation of the song title sounds so much like 'Lucy' that means we are thrown straight back to psych circa-Sgt. Pepper. And then there's 'Jeremy's Storm'- an instrumental, yes- but certainly no 'Flying', and at over five minutes, much, much too long.
But when they stick to the 13th Floor Elevator-inspired stuff, it works- and there are moments of breathtaking brilliance. 'Runway, Houses, City, Clouds' appropriately rises for 7 minutes through imposing drum beats and wailing harmonies before crescendo-ing into a beautiful guitar outro. Needless to say, for a few it won't be enough, and you can almost hear the middle-aged rockers now, clutching their Clapton records, shouting over the top of each track- “it's all been done before!” They'd largely be right of course- the album features a more than generous dollop of Cream, and 40 seconds into 'Told Arrow Of Time' it's a surprise not to have heard Jimi Hendrix singing.
But what does it matter? Who cares if there's a part of Tame Impala that's how The Doors would have sounded if Jim Morrison had kept himself out of that bath long enough to hear a Radiohead record? This is melodic psychedelia; and it works as much in 2010 as it did in 1967.