By: Amanda McMillan
If I had to describe The Slow Rush in one word (a feat for any Tame Impala Album) it would probably be spacey. The album artwork also gives us a sense of otherworldly-ness; which is the perfect way to describe Kevin Parker's approach to his work: out of this world.
This album boasts quite a disco sensibility. There are a lot of synthy layers and looping that feels intentionally dialed up, creating a sense of levity where there is usually a distinct Kevin Parker moodiness. It’s a mature album, especially when listened in contrast, for lack of a better word, with the rest of Tame Impala’s catalog.
InnerSpeaker, the band’s 2010 debut, is a trippy, sonic nod to the summer of love. While 2012’s Lonerism is an intense journey that takes a page out of John Lennon’s later work - isolated and elusive. Then, most recently with 2015’s iconic release Currents, we have a fully formed expression of Kevin Parker’s creation that leaves most, if not all, listeners with a lasting sense of longing and reflection. Parker himself has noted that those three albums operate as a trilogy that signifies growth. In his own words: “InnerSpeaker is the caterpillar, Lonerism is the cocoon, and Currents is the butterfly,” Damn.
With that in mind, it’s been five years since we’ve watched Currents emerge and float away, leaving us with an empty space we’ve been eager to fill. Upon the first few listens of The Slow Rush, it’s easy to pick out the pieces that immediately stick to your bones, while still leaving room to discover and unwrap Parker’s newest gift.
The album opens on "One More Year," with a churchy kind of vibe like a pipe organ took a hit of LSD. The vocals are airy and dreamy, lyrics crisp and clear; it's a look backward and forward in time. The disco beat keeps the track from feeling too open and meandering as if the song might float away without the gravitational pull of the of that bass-y thud. In a world that seems to be falling apart at every turn, it's an anthem for hanging in there. It celebrates time, both the passing of it and the mystical unknown of the future, which feels refreshing, honest, and sweet without ever bordering on saccharine.
The clear ‘big tunes’ off of the album instantly present themselves: “Borderline”, “It Might Be Time,” and “Lost in Yesterday.” Unsurprisingly, all three have been pre-released as singles. Although, there is much more to be discovered within the nooks and crannies of this tracklisting. As you sift through the looping synths, funky phasers, trippy vocal delays, and heavy (very heavy) reverb, there are ever-so-delicious bass lines and guitar licks that provide that undeniable Tame Impala sound and shimmer. However, from song to song, they prove to fill a slightly different role here than on previous albums, as if to act as the punctuation for the synth’s otherwise run-on sentences.
The further you progress into the album, the more there is this intangible feeling that there is something rising to the surface that feels different. It’s certainly an evolution, and the half-decade between this album and the last is clearly present. The front half asks you to come a little closer, while the back half attempts to grab you by the collar. Like with any Tame Impala record, there’s a journey that unfolds with every note, one that is to be discovered over and over again in your own way, and in your own time.
On a track by track level, each one has its own little nugget that sets it apart from the rest without ever feeling like drifted away. “Breathe Deeper” features a sweet little early-aughts R&B piano riff that feels like an Ashanti sample, while “Posthumous Forgiveness” is a Zeppelin-esque rollercoaster ride. Then there’s “Glimmer,” a short but very sweet song that could be some sort of lost Gorgio Mororder dance track.
There’s a tasty treat in every song, the kind of earworms that burrows into your brain long after you’ve stopped listening. By the time you reach the finale "One More Hour", you’re almost feeling dizzy. As the final fuzz of it fades out, my instinct is to start back at the beginning to go on this adventure all over again. Indeed, the only way to listen to this album is on repeat.
It’s unclear if Kevin Parker is looking to bring another butterfly to life; only time will tell what kind of creature, be it bug or beast, will emerge from this next era of work. Whatever it may be, judging by what’s been given to us so far, I think it’s safe to say we’re all eager to simply let it happen.