tame impala - currents

Mary-Elisabeth Moore

Enter into Tame Impala’s Currents and prepare to be forcefully swept downstream. 

It is an album best listened to whilst in motion - whether driving through traffic, making your way through a crowded street, or dodging baby strollers and rainbow-striped umbrellas sprinkled along a beach. The album was never built for sitting still but thematically it suggests that stagnancy is a bullshit nonexistent concept anyway. We are always moving forward in some way or another, and frontman Kevin Parker advises that we start to swim along with the current. Hypocritical advice, maybe, coming from the creator of an album the general mood of which seems to be a state of anxiety. 

The music video for Let it Happen brilliantly captures this tension between taking life naturally as it comes and being unable to manage external social pressures to speed up. The video’s protagonist, a man in a business suit, rushes through airport terminals and train stations; is thrown into hotels and belted into a crashing plane. As life rushes outside and around him, internally he stops, suffers from a heart-attack and dies. In a scene of dark humor, he continues his flight through the sky, but this time towards a tunnel of pink clouds – the dark jest being that he can’t escape mobility, even when he is dead. The killer track behind the cinematography has a dark disco feel; a heavy, muddled bassline gives it blood, while the drum kick gives it a pulse. Distorted guitars and keyboards fill the rest with frenzied energy.

On Yes I’m Changing, Currents shifts away from its mood of panic towards a more hopeful feeling. Although the song is about losing a girl, its angle is a positive one, focusing on letting go of anger and moving onwards and upwards. Parker sings softly atop a drumline that sounds like casually snapping fingers, “Yes I’m changing / Yes I’m gone / Yes I’m older / Yes I’m moving on”. The track melts into the listener’s surroundings as samples of purring traffic blend into the twinkling of a harpy electronic keyboard.

The mood shifts again back to negativity near the end of the album. Tracks like Cause I’m a Man, Love/Paranoia and New Person, Same Old Mistakes are all self-deprecating in a very Father John Misty way. When Parker finally slows to a stop on the last song, New Person, Same Old Mistakes, he cleverly sings cutting dialogue over a bone-rattling bassline, which serves as the melodic spine: “Feel like a brand new person / (but you make the same old mistakes) / I don’t care I’m in love / (Stop before it’s too late)”.

Musically speaking, Currents is by far Tame Impala’s most sophisticated album and probably the most cohesive as well. It is consistent with their psychedelic sound but loosens away from the brightly colored hippy box they had put themselves into with Innerspeak and Lonerism by ditching the presence of clear sounding rock and substituting it for more Daft Punk-y instrumentation. Currents will undoubtedly make for a brilliant tour – their show in Glasgow on September 8 might just be rank among the many good alternative to Freshers’…