It feels like Kevin Parker has finally found the perfect balance between the scrappy psych rock Tame Impala and the more nuanced, pop-inflected Tame Impala we’ve been hearing since 2015s Currents. Parker has never made it a secret that he had much loftier goals than just making his debut Innerspeaker over and over again. Even on his 2012 masterpiece Lonerism there were hints of a master pop songwriter/engineer hidden in those woozy psych rock jams.
With his newest album, the exquisitely laid back The Slow Rush, both worlds come together into a record for late night spins and long car rides. Where Currents was a huge step into pop radio fare there were moments that felt unnecessary. Maybe too much of a good thing, or just too much. It felt like a record that suffered a bit from too many vibes. The Slow Rush feels very much a singular vibe, and one that flows effortlessly throughout the nearly hour-long album.
Tame Impala’s newest album still resides in the slow jam, R&B world that Currents flirted with, but with even less guitars and more synths, heavy bass, and so, so tasty drums. But in place of the guitars, the psych vibes lie in Parker’s production. Woozy synth lines move back and forth from one ear to the other, envelope filters make the mix occasionally sound as if the song is being pulled into a black hole. This is a headphone record, and one that offers many rewards with a good pair of cans stuck to your head.
The singles offered a glimpse of the sonic world Parker was creating. “Borderline”, “Posthumous Forgiveness”, “Lost In Yesterday”, and “It Might Be Time” are a perfect cross section of the vibes here. But there are so many tasty sonic nuggets on this record. “Breathe Deeper” is a hip hop sample in waiting. Jaunty rhythm, complete with bongos and melodic moments that span from Toto to ARS to Brothers Johnson collide to add serious booty-shaking power. It’s followed up by the exquiste “Tomorrow’s Dust”, complete with almost caribbean percussive notes and picked acoustic guitar.. “On Track” is a big and beautiful hazy ballad. This might be my favorite song on The Slow Rush, and possibly my favorite Kevin Parker song, period. It’s the kind of big, heartfelt pop song we don’t hear much of these days. And made in solitude by one guy. How a skinny, stoned Australian dude from Perth creates these immaculate records all on his own is beyond me.
Tame Impala’s newest, from start to finish is this mellow magic carpet ride. From album opener “One More Year” to album closer “One More Hour”, Kevin Parker seems to have solidified the sound he’s been chasing since a decade ago making wobbly, sun-fried psych rock on an old tape recorder.
The Slow Rush is a masterpiece in laid back melancholy.
9.0 out of 10