Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Streaming Conciousness: Tame Impala's InnerSpeaker

Australian trio Tame Impala first came through my speakers last week, courtesy of a track on Insound's latest digital mixtape (spread, as with all freebies, through our Facebook page....which if you wanted to 'Like' would be just dandy). A warm, hazy affair with a skewed pop sensibility, it pricked up my ears and made me take note for future reference. 

Well, the future turned out to be a mere 7 days, as new album InnerSpeaker is now up for full streaming on AOL. As I knew I'd have to listen immediately, it seemed logical to wheel out another installment of this feature, whereby thoughts are simply spilled onto the page as they arise from the first listen. If you're thinking "isn't everything here just spilled onto the page?", that's the kind of thought your mother advised you to keep to yourself when you were little. Heed her.

Opening track It Is Not Meant To Be is right in keeping with the ostensibly lazy approach of the band, which is merely a facade as the thick, sometimes dissonant layers of sound must take time and a certain mastery of production to get just right. The guitars float in and out of the mix on a cloud of reverb and the vocals lend a further hazy quality, with a distant air of 60's pop lingering to confuse matters further. Desire Be Desire Go rides in - and relies on - a more propulsive rhythm section to differentiate itself, though the same blur to the sound remains present and correct.

Alter Ego is more upbeat still, with explorations of quieter passages at various intervals adding a welcome extra dimension to the unfolding sound, alongside confident percussion and an echoing vocal. Lucidity reverts to vaguely psychedelic, chilled type for a short while before exploding into an almost stoner rock-tinged freak out to close. Following is Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind, which lacks a question mark but offers plenty more blissed out moments for those listeners not already finding themselves slumped down on the couch, journeying into the land beyond. The aforementioned free track, Solitude Is Bliss, is up next and the oft-repeated line of "You will never come close to how I feel...." makes one wonder if this isn't perfectly true, given just how laid back the singer sounds on this album. Though neatly side stepping the chillwave bandwagon with some simple, raw garage rock effects, the first 5 letters of the genre du jour suit Tame Impala to a tee.

MP3: Tame Impala - Solitude Is Bliss
Taken from the new album InnerSpeaker, out now

Buy it at Insound!

Whether or not InnerSpeaker begins to meander at this point depends on one's penchant for extended jam sessions. While I'm as happy as the next long-haired pothead to get into some fuzzed out progressive riffing, it's not until the end of the sprawling Jeremy's Storm that the song really kicks into life. Expectation drags proceedings back into more coherent territory, reviving the extreme reverb on the vocals and holding onto something of a song structure. The closing tracks offer up more variety, with the harmonized singing and optimistic guitar work of Runway, Houses, City, Clouds forging a highlight of the release as a whole. I Don't Really Mind is a much simpler, poppy choice to end things, memorable and modest in the same breath.

It will almost certainly take repeated listens of this album as a whole - probably with the added intimacy of headphones - to pass judgment on whether it gels together overall. Despite the general air of psychedelia being a constant, the band employ styles from garage to folk and back through to stoner rock (the Fu Manchu-esque The Bold Arrow of Time being one such example), perhaps increasing the chance that the release could come apart at the seams with extended listening sessions. 

On the other hand, the first listen of InnerSpeaker reveals plenty of nooks and crannies into which to poke our inquisitive ears. It doesn't sound like these Aussies are being contrary simply for the sake of an angle, rather that they want to incorporate so much into one record that it inevitably falls apart from time to time. More often, though, there's that loose haze keeping the sound in the same realm, letting the individual instruments and lyrics offer some variety. And adventurousness in music, as we know, has to be applauded as we find it. For this, Tame Impala are afforded a warm reception.

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