Tame Impala is a band steeped in the sound of the past. Oftentimes they take those sounds and shift them into compelling new things that sound familiar. It’s one of the most interesting things on “Currents,” their 2015 album. Yet on Kevin Parker’s new album “The Slow Rush,” it all ends up sounding repetitive.
There’s no doubt the album is a pleasant listen. Parker’s anxiety and perfectionism likely wouldn’t let him release an album that, at the very least, was not technically amazing. The synths are lush and the drums are crisp, but just prominent enough. Unfortunately, beautiful music alone doesn’t make interesting art. However, the sounds that Parker strings together make yacht rock for a new generation.
Parker’s love for the music of the 70s has only grown more intense on “The Slow Rush.” He’s pivoted away from psychedelic rock and has leaned into music that is extremely reminiscent of Supertramp, Toto and Yes.
It is unlikely that this reference material will be familiar to the younger people consuming this album, but their parents will undoubtedly recognize it. The heady and trippy aspects of prog rock align perfectly with the vibes that Tame Impala has been crafting for years, they’re just a more accessible and relaxed version.
The more exciting moments of this album come from Parker’s drum arrangements. There is a clear hip hop and house influence which inject these agonized-over songs with life. Parker knows that drums and bass keep people hooked, his most successful songs are best enjoyed on the dance floor.
“The Slow Rush” is a departure from his previous works in that Parker has clearly grown influenced by house music. The house elements he infuses into these songs are definitely mellowed out, but it’s a welcome change from the boom bap beats that do still permeate this album.
On “It Might Be Time,” the first three minutes of the track sound a lot like every other song on the album with its Supertramp-like melodies, but during the final minute the drums and bass start sounding blown out and the pianos start to loop. Listeners want it to keep going, but then it cuts off.
Directly after, “Glimmer” comes on. It is basically a watered down house song, beginning with an audio snippet saying, “You know how to make the bass better?/Crank the bass up/.” If that mentality had filtered more into this album it’s likely it would have been a more driving listen.
Parker uses the house elements of his songs as little add-ins or interludes, rather than full blown ideas and it is a little disappointing. Leaning just a little bit more into the drums and bass elements of electronic music could really make this album a unique piece of work.
“The Slow Rush” is full of undeniable hard work and pleasant music. Every song is well crafted and exactly what Parker wanted them to be. Yet there’s a robotic-ness to it. Calling it emotionless or lifeless wouldn’t be accurate, but it is lacking some kind of soul. Parker, a true perfectionist, didn’t allow real moments of freedom, giving the album an overall aspect of stiffness.