“Innerspeaker” – ‘Tame Impala’ [Joint Review]
When my counterpart first introduced me to the blog, it came with a succession of whatever albums and EPs he had in his collection at the time, which I assume has doubled since I last laid eyes on it. ‘Tame Impala’ was still in its infancy then: we’d only just gotten a hold of their music, and that was their EP. So you can imagine how long we’ve waited for the full release of their debut album, “Innerspeaker”, with much anticipation and accompanying hype not in the slightest way over or underrated; it’s all good…
I cannot say that I have been such an ardent follower of ‘Tame Impala’ since its conception, but have more often than not, held respect for their musical abilities and strikingly nostalgic quality. Over the past few months the music-scene has been rather lethargic, and the bands we’ve been waiting for since early this year have yet to reveal themselves; effectively, “Innerspeaker” is a godsend, and it was my counterpart who suggested we feature this as our first Joint Review for 2010. So, without the need for further introduction, I bring you:
So, as I previously mentioned, ‘Tame Impala’ released their five-track EP back in 2008: remember, the blog started back in ’09, so you do the math: fans have been waiting for what feels like forever now. It’s a lot to ask for in terms of dedication – especially when “Innerspeaker” is their first official studio album. I don’t blame any of you for losing interest in the meanwhile, such as myself. But “Innerspeaker” should be a real treat for fan and newcomer alike, and is a fresh display of up-and-coming talent from the Australian music-scene based primarily in Perth, which is where these guys hale from.
Let me cement the fact that ‘Tame Impala’ – in my honest opinion – remain the tightest, prominent band to come out of Australia in the past two years. I feel I must emphasise the fact that ‘Tame Impala’ are miles ahead of anything else I’ve listened to from Australia and written about in the blog for a long, long time. With that said, this debut smacks of maturity – “Innerspeaker” has had a lot of time to do something, and that’s probably overall album-refinement. Their style isn’t anything particularly new, but this in no way impinges on its quality or expression – like most bands from Australia at the moment, they’re stuck in the great musical rut of predictability [indie, alternative, rock, progressive…], it’s just these guys do it oh-so-much-better than the rest.
Onwards:‘Tame Impala’ are a three-piece band constituting of Kevin Parker [lead guitar, vocals], Dominic Simper [bass] and Jay Watson [drums, backing-vocals]. They aren’t as stuck-in-the-rut as I might have previously made them out to be, with some influential psychedelic sounds undercutting the whole stereotypical rock motif – if anything, this distills an already potent, hypnotic mixture infused with the musical equivalent of hallucinogens or acid. So if you weren’t already tripping, you’re sure to be after this, spiraling in and out of control; the mind boggles…
At very-close to an hour, “Innerspeaker” is a full-bodied album with no ends left untied, and no tracks needing more than what is already generously given. With tracks averaging around the four-minute mark, expect no untidy ephemerals, no unnecessary interludes, no distracting instrumentals, just pure, psychedelic bliss. While occasionally this is great for putting you to sleep, the album carries with it as much power as it does subtlety at times, for a rewarding, well-rounded experience.
Musically, I may have offhandedly remarked that ‘Tame Impala’ is very nostalgic: I will reassert this fact that at times I sometimes hear John Lennon in the vocals, the occasional ‘Pink Floyd’ in its synth, maybe even ‘The Who’, and most definitely ‘The Doors’ without Jim Morrison. While these are some pretty big comparisons to go on, I would not solely rate ‘Tame Impala’ on only these mentions, for they are fleeting, and may just be my own fancies in my own listening – instead, I’ll point you in the direction of a very like-band called ‘The Bavarian Druglords’ who were in one of my first reviews with an album called “205”.
“Innerspeaker” carries with it a lethal track-listing, with most above the standard or higher – you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. Nevertheless, there are some which stand out more than others: for instance, the intro, which quite effectively sets the scene for the album as a whole. If you need ‘Tame Impala’ context – if such a thing were even to exist – “It Is Not Meant To Be” is a great follow-up for any of you haphazard-readers still uncertain about listening. The elements within this track feel very old, and I half-expect for this song to time-travel back a few decades. The mix of synth keyboard – which is reminiscent of ‘The Doors’ [tracks like “Riders On The Storm”, for instance] – work in tandem with the bass and guitar, and the percussion wonderfully ties this altogether. Lyrics here are especially noteworthy, and are at the quality you should expect to find on the rest of “Innerspeaker”.
“Desire Be Desire Go” is one of my personal favourites, purely because of its redeeming guitar-riffs which back up the vocals wonderfully; the way Parker kind of hiccups the words really drives the track on the whole, and as a chorus it is particularly memorable. With that said, the solos can sometimes drag a little, but nothing too detrimental as to effect the overall quality of the song.
“Solitude Is Bliss”, featured in the middle of the album, is worth waiting for, and is probably the strongest song that “Innerspeaker” has to offer. This track is simplistic, and this is exactly why it pulls it off. Memorable chorus, catchy tune, all mainstream making stuff. The driving bass, the lighthearted percussion, the resonating vocals, the trippy synth – none of it clashes, none of it is superfluous, all of it is ju-u-u-ust right. If ‘Tame Impala’ pull off another ten or twenty of these, they’ll be set for life.
Overall, I highly recommend taking a listen to “Innerspeaker”, if merely to satisfy curiosity, if purposely to buy, and most heartily implore fans of their EP to get their hands on it as soon as possible; I am a little disappointed I didn’t go and see them live with my counterpart, he assures me they were brilliant live. Look out for these guys in the future, they’re sure not to disappoint if they keep up the hard work.
Reviewers Pick: “Desire Be Desire Go”
Stand-out Tracks: “It Is Not Meant To Be”, “Desire Be Desire Go”, “Alter Ego”, “Solitude Is Bliss”
The Enantiomorphic God.