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Lonerism by Tame Impala album review

Album: Lonerism
Artist: Tame Impala
Genre: Psychedelic Space Rock
Released: 2012
Great tracks: Elephant, Apocalypse Dreams, Endors Toi
Dud tracks: Keep On Lying
Rating: 4 out of 5 acid-fuelled visits to Mars

Lonerism may sound like something sci-fi nerds suffered from before the internet, but it’s actually 12 retro rock tracks so authentic you’ll be digging out the flares and applying a chest wig.

All the good ideas are gone. All the great songs have been sung, all the great riffs have been written and all the great scripts have been performed.

Tame Impala

Now act natural

From now on, the only artistic output we can expect are shameless rehashes of yesterday’s successes (Die Hard 5? Really?) or carefully marketed rubbish written to appeal to the nanosecond attention span of the average teenager (looking at you Will.i.Am). Oh, and cat memes. Lots and lots of cat memes.

It’s not hard to understand why this is the case, of course. Between updating Facebook/Twitter/Tumbler/Linked In/Pinterest/Reddit/Instagram, who has the time to come up with original ideas? Tame Impala, that’s who.

On first acquaintance, it’s easy to dismiss the West Australian oufit as another group of ’70s rock wannabes in the vein of Wolfmother, pining for an era that took place before they were even born.

But unlike the latter band, who had such a strong Black Sabbath influence that even Ozzy Osbourne’s drug-addled brain could’ve made the connection –- “Sharon! Sharon! Call the fucking lawyers! These fucking Aussies have fucking stolen all our fucking riffs!” –- Tame Impala mix the sound of so many bands (Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, David Bowie, The Doors, The Beatles, and others) into their cocktail of psychedelic rock that eventually you stop trying to make connections and just enjoy them as their own thing.

The Perth five-piece’s debut album, Innerspeaker, was released in 2010 to global acclaim. A whirlwind tour of Europe and the US followed; while back home the album was nominated for four ARIAs and won Triple J’s Album of the Year. Cue seven-year hiatus while the band works out how to top it, right?

Nope, less than two years later Lonerism has landed. Lonerism may sound like something sci-fi nerds suffered from before the internet was invented, but it’s actually 12 tracks of retro rock so authentic you’ll be digging out the flares and applying the chest wig before you can say ‘bad idea’.

In contrast to the more guitar-centric Innerspeaker, the greater synth presence on Lonerism can make a few tracks sound like they’ve escaped from the A Clockwork Orange soundtrack, but by the time the dreamy soundscapes of Enders Toi and Apocalypse Dreams have floated past your eardrums you’ll be hooked.

Strongest, and heaviest, track on the album is undoubtedly Elephant, which shuffles along with the relentless power of an army of limping pachyderms and features one of the best lines in modern rock music: “He pulled the mirrors off his Cadillac (yeh!) coz he doesn’t like it looking like he looks back.”

But a word of warning: Tame Impala won’t be for anyone. If you hate the sound of singer Kevin Parker’s reverb-drenched falsetto, its constant presence will be akin to nails down a blackboard by the end of the album. It also makes him indecipherable in concert, like he’s drowning through a microphone.

The biggest problem facing Lonerism, though, is that it doesn’t quite reach the bar set so high by its predecessor, Innerspeaker. Which means we’re back to square one – even the quality new stuff isn’t as good as the old stuff.

2 Responses to Lonerism by Tame Impala album review

  1. Luke VS Reply

    April 11, 2013 at 10:53 am

    The estate of John Lennon should be on the phone to the lawyers. The singers poor, whining imitation of The Beatles vocalist is the most blatant rip off since Eddie Vedder’s voice was copied by every Alternative band in the 90’s that came after them. Their music is just a reverb drenched mess that sails so close to The Beatles later stuff and Pink Floyd’s first album, Syd Barret’s estate should also be contacting legal advice.

    Maybe the estates of the all the dead members from the two bands could combine and make a class action? They should. Such plagiarism shouldn’t go unpunished.

    And whilst I’m ranting, Lame Impala is the freshest steaming turd in the pile of Aussie bands that blow up big thanks their ‘retro sound’. Wolfmother, Jet and The Vines are all part of that list. Critics gush and audiences flock to them in droves. Then it quickly becomes clear that if they’re already copying classic bands, they’re not going to be able to create anything new or original.

    The phase “declining artistic returns” defines these bands perfectly. No one cares about The Vines anymore. Jet broke up, even though everyone had forgotten they were still together. Wolfmother is no longer Wolfmother. It’s the singer and some session musos. Hopefully it won’t be long until Lame Impala disappear into obscurity and this horrible trend dies.

  2. neS Reply

    December 21, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Wow, so much hate, boy. Like there was anything absolutely original on earth. These guys give the classics a nice twist. Chill. man.

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