It’s been five years since the last full-length studio album from Kevin Parker’s neo-psychedelic project Tame Impala. “The Slow Rush” is a return to buffen up the sonic features we heard on “Currents” and a complete fade out of old project’s early psych-rock influences. More of the tracks have a sound that is influenced by adult contemporary R&B than any resemblance to psychedelia. The result is Parker’s most danceable project yet with some creative faults along the way. On most Tame Impala project’s the sound is consistent but never overbearingly repetitive. On this project it’s a bit easier to forget you’re listening to it and all of sudden your two tracks past the tracks you thought you were on. This is not a problem in a project that goes past forty minutes, but you better make sure you have the material to keep up the pace and not trip over your own shoe laces. The mixing on this thing is mostly phenomenal. Synthesizer and electronic production takes over even more heavily here than on “Currents”, with a signature thick bass that’s still present throughout the album just as well. We need more recognition for Parker’s talent on pumping out these memorable bass lines on every album. These bass lines feel like the only callback to the days of the “Lonerism” sound, and of course the project is soaked in flanger and phaser filters.
We also get a reworked version of “Borderline” which sounds much better than the original single release. The album version of the song has harder-hitting drums, and added synth grooves. And it no longer sounds like it was recorded in a cave on a phone. I wish the album followed more in the style and sound of “Borderline” back when listening through it a third time. A Tame Impala album where the main influence is Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” and ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money”would absolutely rip. Here’s to more reworks from artists in the future, who’s going to stop you? The seven minute “One More Hour” is a solo piano odyssey that morphs into a woozy mix of hard hitting bass and drums.
The main theme throughout the album is time and its fleeting nature. Indicated by the lyrics and song titles (One More Year, Tomorrow’s Dust, Lost In Yesterday, It Might Be Time and One More Hour). Parker reflects on his past, present and future. Posthumous Forgiveness, a track about his complicated relationship with his late father, and arguably the best song off of the entire album. Songs like this on the project have an opus-like quality. Much like the other longer songs on this album have two very distinct parts. Unfortunately it sometimes just ends up sounding like some boring indie-funk that my discover weekly playlist tries to slyly slide in. That’s right I’m talking about you track nine, do better. Also, hearing Kevin’s falsetto on so many tracks undermines its power, if you have the talent to sing in multiple styles why limit yourself to one?
Song structures are much more based on the typical pop verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. If you’ve been following all the collaborations Parker has been apart of the past five years You could call this album less unique, but the problems of mainstream pop have always been the stale sounds that it gets stuck on, it’s never the structures. Parker is following the mantra of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, instead he just pours glue on everything and covers it in a glimmering glitter bomb.
After five years was this worth the wait, not sure there is an answer to that. I’m glad Kevin Parker has changed this project so much and that didn’t become the psychedelic rock version of Greta Van Fleet. He develops the sound of his inspirations without committing creative theft. Parker refuses to beat a dead horse, and you can see how that’s a risky take in the mainstream where the project now exists. When “Currents” dropped the reaction was either great praise or disappointed fans who scurried off to be King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard fans. Tame Impala is a project that refuses to be anything but new and exciting. This is an album you can dance alone to or grab a pair of headphones, lay down, and let the slow rush takeover.