By: The Busted Amp Staff
Joseph: Tame Impala are at the top of the psychedelic world. Since their debut in 2010, this band has been blowing away fans of psychedelic music with their experiments in vocals, drum lines, and guitar riffs. If you don't know Tame Impala, you probably aren't a fan of The Grateful Dead or Phish, however if you are a fan of those then you'd probably say Tame Impala is one of the best bands on the planet. Tame Impala is in a rare position. A position to introduce the purists of the psychedelic genre to the world of the synthesizer. While the genre has been experimenting with synthesizers for years, there are many fans of the genre who believe that these melodies pollute the experience, and have thus avoided it. Well, if Tame Impala's transition to synthesizers doesn't convince them of the validity of the instrument, nothing will.
Currents is, in my opinion, the best album to come out of the psychedelic genre in a long time. From its frantic opening in "Let It Happen" to the final fade out (one of the few times I will ever enjoy a fade out because it's actually used properly) in finale "New Person, Same Old Mistakes," I believe bandleader Kevin Parker is trying to bring the purists of the genre with him. I think it will work.
My favorite song on the album, "The Less I Know, the Better," features a fantastic bass line that I have the strongest urge to sit down and learn and play with as much personality as bassist Cam Avery does. I also really enjoyed the opener and single, "Let It Happen," because this song is a great introduction to the synthesizer, as the instrument dominates the song at baby bear levels: not too much or too little, but just right.
You know it's funny because, in my review of X Ambassadors VHS, I said I prefer singles over album listening. Well, this still reigns true. However, this is the album I will remember at the end of the year when I think of my favorite albums of 2015. Not VHS. Why? Because I still greatly appreciate and respect an artist willing to sacrifice good singles and good radio airplay to churn out a phenomenal album experience. This is the expectation in the psychedelic world, and Tame Impala is now 3 for 3 when it comes to delivering a memorable album experience. While I do think things get a little too crazy around "Cause I'm a Man" and "Reality in Motion," as both of these songs have the tendency to mesh together, that's hardly a worthy complaint. This album is phenomenal, and I strongly recommend a listen to anyone who has had some experience with psychedelic music at some point in their lives. Now, I have the strangest urge to find some "substances" and listen to this album again. And by "substances" I mean water of course.
My Number: 9/10
Derek: From the very first note, bandleader Kevin Parker wastes little time before revealing the new direction of the band on Currents. Gone are the grooving psychedelic guitar riffs found on Lonerism, replaced instead by a myriad of synths and pinpoint production tweaks that sends you on journey after journey into Parker's mind.
The lead single "Let It Happen" is aptly named; we just have to take the plunge and let it happen. This is a slow burning album, far from songs like "Elephant" that helped propel the band to headlining status in the last three years, and "Let It Happen" is the perfect introduction. This multi-section, nearly 8 minute long song is full of surprises, from the foggy synths, the looping, and the electronic vocals, to the familiar albeit brief return of electric guitar, this is the most complex and ambitious Tame Impala song I've heard to date (confession: At first, I thought the looping was my music player crashing). Not surprisingly, the song made my list of Top Songs in 2015 So Far.
After a brief interlude to catch your breath, Parker and gang continue the slow, but purposeful vibe for the rest of the album. There are no heavy guitar riffs, but there is a distinct focus on what they wanted this album to achieve. I really thought Nina Corcoran from Consequence of Sound captured it best on her review when she said that Currents is "dance music for closed eyes, opium over ecstasy, slow moves rather than sweaty motions".
One of the few misses for me appears right in the middle of the album with the song "Past Life". On it, a low, groveling voice, reminiscent of what people sound like when they want their identity protected during interviews, provides a clichéd narrative of an unexpected sighting of a lost love that rekindles old feelings. This, combined with dreamy synths and an awful chorus of "I'm a past life" with added quips by the voice, come together to form a horrendous song that should have been scrapped. Spoiler, the song ends when the narrator calls his lost love. Besides this hiccup, the upbeat "Disciples" and catchy chorus on "'Cause I'm a Man" thoroughly make up for any pain endured on "Past Life".
All in all, this is a great evolution for the band. While many will miss the heavy psychedelic guitar riffs from Lonerism, I think Currents brings something just as beautiful to their catalog, and something that people will be listening to for a while.
My Number: 8/10
Final Verdict: 8.5/10
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here.