Review: Tame Impala – Currents

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80%
80
Smooth

Overall a very cool album, starts off strong but by the second half the vocals begin to drone and the songs become uninspired. The tracks work separately but not as an album.

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It’s very easy to slip into Currents, Tame Impala’s third studio album. You go in one side and wake up at the other not really aware of quite what has happened.

Tame Impala’s sound has always followed a psychedelic rock style, but with this LP the band braves more synths and audio effects, transforming itself into a psyche-pop album with a sound that warps around your ears in waves. The beats and melodies are upbeat, but transform in such a way throughout the songs that, coupled with Kevin Parkers’ distant, trancelike voice, they have a bittersweet edge.

The tracks start out strong. ‘Let it Happen’ is both the intro and my favourite track, featuring a punchy drum beat that gets you excited for what’s to come. The song slows down, quietens to a murmur, only to then resurrect the original beat again but broken down into half beat glitch repeats, echoing Human After All era Daft Punk and transforming the song into an entirely different form for a brief moment. From that you’re dropped into the much shorter ‘Nangs’, straight into extremely liquid sounding synths, bubbling, and plucked straight out of a Flume remix. It’s confusing, the lyrics question what’s come before, and establishes the back and forth of thought in the album; the confidence in a relationship followed by unsureness.

The LP continues very much in this style for its entirety, with the same recurring themes, dreamy vocals, and occasional twists and turns with synth effects. As for other highlights on the album, ‘The Moment’ offers a similar high to the introduction, with many commenting that it harks back to a Tears for Fears style. ‘Eventually’ switches between hard hitting static guitar riffs and slow keyboard melodies, all topped with sharp drum noises to become one of the more interesting tracks on the album. ‘The Less I Know the Better’ is another of the more guitar focused tracks on the album, offering slick bass and chimes, creating further comparisons to Tears For Fears.

However, there are songs that begin to annoy on the album. ‘Yes I’m Changing’ hold the first signs that Parker’s voice is wearing thin, showing that while the lofty high pitched voice may work on some tracks it becomes evident that he uses the same vocal style through the entire LP. By the last few tracks it becomes grating, from both overexposure and the contrast between the experimentation in the music and the uniformity of the vocals. ‘Cause I’m a Man’ is chief example of this, and leaves you just wanting the track to end and to move onto something new. ‘Past Life’, in an interesting twist, decides to finally switch up the vocals, but sadly with this strange pitched down voiceover, that seems like a parody of the use of the effect in current music.  It also only brings more attention to the singularity of vocal style on the album. ‘Gossip’ and ‘Disciples’ are songs that maintain the same quality as the rest of the album, but are so short that they sound like half-finished ideas, not quite interludes, not quite full tracks.

Despite these issues the album is musically consistent, the production is strong and there are no obvious dips in quality. Individually there aren’t any especially bad songs either, listened out of context they are enjoyable, but when compiled into an album the flaws become more distinct. The ever changing sounds, from smooth to rough to back again, add a constant push/pull quality to the music, with the waves washing over you. You’ll need to repeat the last few tracks as by the time you’ve gotten to them you’re zoned out, focusing entirely on the mood of the music, not the specifics, and when you relisten to them you wouldn’t have remembered hearing them in the first place. It essentially becomes a background music album and while it’s good to listen to, it can’t keep your attention the whole way through.

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I like sitting by the fire, long walks on the beach, and sunsets. I am also fond of Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain, but I would like to add that I am not into yoga.

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