TAME IMPALA – Innerspeaker (Modular)

You might recall how I raved about Tame Impala when I first heard their EP last year, so you can imagine how excited I was when their album appeared out of the blue. I had a quick listen to the new single on Youtube, and although it sounded quite different to the EP tracks I was not too worried. I popped the album on, and track 2 was a reworking of the song that turned me on to them in the first place ‘Desire Be, Desire Go’. Well, disappointment is an understatement – I have never heard a band change so much between their first and second record. Every bit of rawness and power that made the song so great has been stripped away, and we are left with a pale imitation of the original sound. Hoping this was an aberration, I carried on listening and it turns out that the whole album has the same insipid production, stripping the songs of any life that they might have had. I made it to the end but could not help thinking of what could have been. After a week or so I thought I would try it again, and now that I knew what to expect it didn’t sound quite as bad as the first time, and if I imagined that it was another band entirely I could actually quite enjoy the Floyd influenced psychedelic leanings and heavy rock licks, and while they still have a knack of injecting random pieces of noise where you wouldn’t normally expect them, it is not that band that I fell in love with. Kevin Parker’s vocals on ‘It Is Not Meant To Be’ have more than a touch of the Lennons about them, while also being laid back to the point of torpor, but when the music has a similar feel to it then it all gels quite nicely. I will skip ‘Desire Be, Desire Go’ as I don’t think I can ever listen to this version again, but ‘Alter Ego’ has a late-era Beatles vibe to it and the way the rhythm section fades in and out makes it worth a second hearing. The chiming guitar chords of ‘Lucidity’ are much more Strokes than Beatles, and the fuzz guitar solo nearly blows the speakers. ‘Solitude Is Bliss’ is built around a great retro guitar riff and shuffling beat, perfectly melding with Parker’s laconic vocal. ‘Jeremy’s Storm’ is an effect-laden space-rock instrumental, which actually has a pleasant melody running through it, and ‘Bold Arrow Of Time’ is one of the heaviest things they have done. And even I will admit that ‘Runway, Houses, City, Clouds’ is a superlative piece of songwriting, seemingly welding together about six different songs into one apocalyptic whole, while ‘I Don’t Really Mind’ is as basic as they can make it – minimal lyrics and repetitive riffs, which somehow seems to work. OK, perhaps I was a bit harsh at the beginning of the review, but it was such a shock, and after telling everyone who would listen about this great new Aussie band I was afraid that they would hear this and wonder what the hell I was on about. On subsequent hearings the quality of the music starts to shine through, and the band have certainly not wimped out in trying to cram as many effects and over the top guitar solos as they can into the songs, so if you have never heard the EP then give this a try and you will be impressed, and if you loved the EP as much as I did then just be warned - just compare the sample of the album version of ‘Desire Be Desire Go’ with the EP version reviewed earlier.
  Solitude Is Bliss
Desire Be, Desire Go
EP version