Tame Impala's third studio album, Currents, is the follow-up to 2012's Lonerism, and the resolution of an introspective period for Kevin Parker, the founder, frontman and visionary of the Australian psychedelic rock band. Lyrically and sonically, the record mirrors his process of transformation during a break from making music with the band.
Throughout, Parker deals with Tame Impala's sudden fame, and at times, it seems, with his breakup with Melody Prochet (Melody's Echo Chamber). Eight-minute lead single "Let It Happen" is a twitchy, psychedelic disco about the entropy of everyday life; "At some point," Parker has said of the song, "you realize it takes more energy to shut it out than it does to let it happen." As it slows, listeners are delivered into "Nangs," a brief interlude that echoes, "But is there something more than that?," a hope-filled life preserver, above wobbling synthesizer and woozy strings.
These introductory tracks leave listeners asking that same question — is there something more? Currents is void of the fuzzed-out explosions of songs like "Half Full Glass of Wine" and "Elephant" from previous records Extraspeaker (the second disc on the collector's edition of Innerspeaker) and Lonerism, respectively. The driving, assured guitar that led listeners through those albums has been replaced with gliding melodies that demonstrate Parker's new "go with the flow" mindset.
Despite that seeming passivity, Currents has all the merit of previous Tame Impala collections; indeed, Parker exhibits even stronger mastery of flowing psychedelia. "The Moment," "Yes I'm Changing," "Disciples," "Reality in Motion," "Love Paranoia," "Cause I'm a Man" and "New Person, Same Old Mistakes" possess the same haunting, airy vocals and slow guitar grooves that wooed fans on their earlier releases.
"Eventually" is the most devastating song on the album, and the most directly he addresses the emotions inherent to any breakup. Parker told Stereogum that the song is about "knowing you're about to damage someone irreparably, and the only consolation you get is this distant hope that they'll be alright eventually, because you know they won't be now or soon." Parker approaches the chorus with hesitant optimism: "I know that I'll be happier, and I know you will be too…" A single bass hit reinforces the heavy-hitting truth: "…eventually."
Currents is melodic, pretty, but there's a pervasive sense of melancholy here; each uplifting track feels as though it's masking sorrow with shimmering synth, a teaspoon of sugar to help the medicine down. While some fans may be disappointed that Tame Impala phased out the more straight-up rock aspect of their sound, they've maintained their dizzying psychedelia on Currents. Parker addresses this transformation early in the album: "Yes I'm changing, yes I'm gone. Yes I'm older, yes I'm moving on." Here, he extends an invitation: "And if you don't think it's a crime, you can come along with me."
I'm still following. (Interscope)