When rumours first surfaced about a new Tame Impala release, it was band mate Dominic Simper who gave us the first clue as to the direction of the album: “No one knows what it’s going to sound like yet. All I know is that it’s going to be more electronic”. We all know the Australian psych kings love a bit of synth, and a few months later the man himself, Kevin Parker confirmed that he was inclined to make a disco style album that would be heard on the dance floor rather than sat in your room plugged into your headphones. Clearly then we are moving away from the “solitude Is Bliss” days and onto a more groovy side that Parker wants to explore. He later went on and said that he was getting closer and closer to making the sort of music he enjoys listening to and we shouldn’t be ashamed of exploring areas of music which we normally wouldn’t listen to. The album is evidently a very important one to Parker and one which was bound to expand on what the band has already achieved.
The record starts extremely boldly with a close to 8 minute song “Let It happen”. The song is at heart of what the whole concept album is about – going through change and observing it from someone else’s perspective. Despite the longitude of the tack, it’s extremely captivating as it takes you through a journey of sections from a dancy riffs, a melancholic chorus, a massive synth break down and a Daft Punk style voice over ending.
The album also features a series of shorter interlude type songs “Nangs”, “Gossip” and “Disciples” which together are no longer than the whole of “Let It Happen”, however still hold a punch. Both “Nangs” and “Disciples” were released before the album and gave a hopeful taster of what the album would be like. To the disappointment of many people, they are only short lived and it feels like there is so much more potential for them to be developed into full length songs. “Disciples” is a personal favourite and probably the danciest song on the record, it’s so good it just should be longer.
Regardless, Parker is in charge of the album and it would be a shame to take away all the experimenting and unexpectedness that all their albums have previously had. So what places currents apart from their other albums? It’s the songs like “The Moment”, “The less I know The Better” and “Reality in Motion” which really bring out a different side we’ve never heard before. A side with less metaphorical lyrics, more poppy riffs and a clear influence from recent work on Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Special”. Songs like these would feel very out of place on any other album, but in Currents they are the tracks that truly shape what the album was meant to be. It’s certainly a leap to get used to, but at the same time, another Lonerism might have been too monotonous, and it’s always best for a band not to get tied up with the same sound. Pop these songs on your party playlist and you’re bound to get people bopping their heads along.
Despite this emphasis on a dancefloor album, Currents also features the most emotional songs that we’ve ever heard from them. While “It feels Like We Only Go Backwards” among others are within that same area, there seems to be much more sincerity and genuine sadness in songs like “Yes I’m Changing” and “Love/Paranoia”. Both songs are packed with non-stop passionate lyrics (possibly related to his recent break up with musician Melody Prochet) such as “There’s no future left for you and me” or “Girl I’m sorry, babe I mean it”. You can even feel a strong sense of regret in “Cause I’m a Man” where he tries to put emphasis on the troublesome and doomed nature of men as he sings “I’m pathetic, that’s the reason why…My weakness is the source of all my pride”.
At first the album might take time to get used to… while there’s a surprising lack of guitar and heavy riffed songs like “Elephant” which are normally taken for granted, there seems to be much more in depth and personal thought into the lyrical content rather than power chords or overdrive. Despite Parkers desire for his songs to be played on the dance floor, I’d still be very surprised if Tame Impala was ever played in a club and everyone knew the song. So if not a dance album, what Currents has managed to create is a bridge for the Parker to do whatever he wants on the 4th album and still be considered a Tame Impala record. After all… who’d want to limit the creativity and songs that one of the greatest music minds of our time can give us?