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Music Review: Tame Impala’s Currents

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Tame Impala, an Australian-based psychedelic rock/pop band, came out with their third studio album on July 17, 2015. The album is titled Currents and features 13 brand new songs from the band. These songs range in length from 55 seconds to almost 8 minutes. Kevin Parker, along with the rest of the band, wrote these songs; however, Kevin Parker is known to write all or most of the lyrics. Many of Parker’s lyrics are based off of real events and experiences in his life. Tame Impala has a very spacey and unique sound, and this album is no exception.

The album opens with the song “Let It Happen.” This song is a perfect intro to the album, as it is basically saying to forget about the stressors of life and just go with the flow for a bit. This theme is particularly evident in the line, “I heard about a whirlwind that’s coming ’round, It’s gonna carry off all that isn’t bound, And when it happens, when it happens (I’m gonna be holding on), So let it happen, let it happen.” The whirlwind in this line is an uncontrollable event. The writer, Kevin Parker, is simply saying that it’s going to happen, so there is no use fighting it. He might as well just go with the flow and let it pass.

The next song on this album is titled “Nangs” and is sort of a pulsating wave between the headphones. This song is very short (1:48) and acts as a bridge to the rest of the album. There is a distorted and repeated line throughout the song. This line is “But is there something more than that?” The line is suggesting that maybe there is something more than simply “letting it happen” like in the previous song. Kevin Parker is questioning his previous statements, which leads perfectly to the songs to follow.

The third song on this album is “The Moment.” This song is clarifying the statement made in the previous song by saying how he needs to experience individual moments, instead of just letting them pass. The first two line of this song are “In the end, it’s stronger than I know how to be, And I can’t just spend my whole lifetime wondering.” In this line, Kevin Parker is saying that he can’t just wonder about what could’ve been, but instead he needs to live in the moment.

The fourth song on this album is titled “Yes I’m Changing.” This song changes tempo from the past three songs. The song immediately puts out a far more direct feel than the previous ones. This is the first of many songs on the album to refer to someone from Kevin Parker’s past. This person appears to be an ex-girlfriend. In this song, Parker is referring to how he is a different person than who he used to be, and that if she is not opposed to who he has become, she can come with him. Parker can’t change back to who he was. He has no control over that. If she wants to be with him, she needs to accept who he has become. We can clearly see this through the lines, “Yes I’m changing, yes I’m gone, Yes I’m older, yes I’m moving on, And if you don’t think it’s a crime you can come along, with me,” and “Yes I’m changing, can’t stop it now, And even if I wanted I wouldn’t know how.”

The next song on the album is titled “Eventually.” This song has a very similar feel to the last song, and is sort of a conclusion to his relationship. The entire point of this song is Parker breaking off his ties with this girl from his past. Kevin Parker is saying that he knows they will both be better off if they are no longer together. Parker feels as if he’s hurt her too many times already, and it’s simply better for them not to be together. He is protecting this girl that he obviously cares deeply about. This is clearly stated in the line, “I know I always said that I could never hurt you, Well this is the very very last time I’m ever going to.” In perhaps one of Parker’s best lines of all time, he expresses how the girl would’ve been better off if she had never met him. This line is “Wish I could turn you back into a stranger, Cause if I was never in your life, you wouldn’t have to change this.”

The sixth song on the album is the shortest and is titled “Gossip.” This song is simply a flowing synthesizer and a guitar playing short chords. At first listen, this song may simply sound like a useless bridge or a fun time to play (which I’m sure it is as well), however, genius.com, a website that devotes its time to explore the deeper meaning of songs, seems to think otherwise. In fact, genius.com says, “The lack of lyrics symbolizes how gossip is empty and useless. The repeated instrumental symbolizes how gossip is just a never-ending loop that gets people nowhere.” This song leads perfectly into the next song, as it is saying it’s better not to listen to the rumors that are going around.

The next song on this album seems like it could be shedding some light on Kevin Parker’s pastimes (possibly high school years) with the girl from the previous songs. The title of this song is “The Less I Know The Better.” The main focus of this song is Parker being completely infatuated with a girl; however, she is already with someone else and seems to be uninterested in Parker. The song focuses on Kevin Parker’s thoughts as he is seeing this girl with her boyfriend, as well as the rumors he hears of their intimacy. Parker explains how the less he knows of what the girl is doing with her boyfriend, the better. This is clearly seen through the title. In the music video for this song, the boy that the girl is dating is shown as a gorilla. This is to represent Parker’s view of him. Parker believes that this guy, or “Trevor” (as he is referred to in the song), is not supposed to be with her, just as a gorilla and a human don’t belong together.

The eighth song on this album is called “Past Life.” This song, again, refers to the girl of Kevin Parker’s past. This song is most likely the most current song chronologically in Parker’s life, with “The Less I Know The Better” being the first. In this song, Parker states how some of the things he sees throughout his day still remind him of his times with the girl. In the song, he refers to looking in his rear-view mirror, and just for a second, seeing this girl. With this sight, all of the memories of her rushed back into his head.

The ninth song in this album is another short bridge song titled “Disciples.” This song refers to Kevin Parker’s past love, once again. This time, however, he speaks of how she has changed (instead of how he has changed like in his previous song, “Yes I’m Changing”). In the song he mentions how the girl is “Walking around like everybody should know you(her).” Here he is saying how she is conceited now, unlike before. Parker later says that he wants it to be like it was before. However, due to her loving herself so much now, and the reputation she has built up because of this, she could never be with a guy like him.

The next song on this album is titled “‘Cause I’m A Man.” This song is basically Kevin Parker trying to justifying himself messing up his relationship. However, Parker’s reasoning is simply because he is a man. We can see this theme by the line “You see, I have a conscience and it’s never fooled, But it’s prone to be overruled.” Kevin Parker is saying that even though he knows how he should act, the simple fact that he is a man sometimes trumps that. Thus, Parker messed up simply because he is a man.

The eleventh song on this album is “Reality In Motion.” This song immediately brings the listener into a moment between Kevin Parker and some new girl. This girl is obviously very desirable in Parker’s eyes, so much so in fact that he is nervous to the point that he has “shivers all over” simply by “edging closer” to this girl. Parker says how the girl is usually surrounded by her friends, and that this is his once chance to try to make a move; however, he is still dreadfully nervous. This song could also refer to the first time Kevin Parker met the girl referred to in his previous songs.

The twelfth song on this album is another song about Kevin Parker’s relationship struggle; however, this time it takes place right in the middle of his relationship. The title of this song is “Love/Paranoia,” and it focuses on the paranoid feelings that go hand and hand with being in love. Parker is unsure of what the future holds, and is scared to find out. He just wishes that his girlfriend would more forward with him so that he doesn’t have to guess as to what is really going on. Parker, however, is also not being honest with her. He is jumping to conclusions and is getting hurt by her words, but he isn’t even telling her.

The thirteenth and final song of this album is titled “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.” This song starts out with what seems to be Kevin Parker speaking directly to his fans. Although this album still sounds psychedelic and spacey, like Tame Impala is known for, it also has a completely different sound than their other two albums. Parker goes on to address the scrutiny he knows is to come for himself, as well as the band as a whole, with the first few lines of the song “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.” The first two lines of this song are “I can just hear them now, ‘How could you let us down?'”‘ Kevin Parker later writes that the songs have already been made, so the fans might as well just accept Tame Impala’s new sound (but he says it in much nicer lyrics).

Although Tame Impala isn’t a very well known band by any means, their unique sound quality and lyrical depth are deserving of infinite praise. Even though Currents sounds to be influenced by a little more pop than their previous albums, it still is very well written. The entire theme of this album focuses mainly around the choppy currents of Kevin Parker’s relationship and life. Although the lyrics may seem depressing to read, they are presented in such a way that they still put you in a good mood.

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