Mad Music Monday: Tame Impala (Currents)

Mad Music Monday is a weekly column about records, written by Courtney Caldwell. Got an album you’d like to see reviewed? Let us know!

Notorious loner Kevin Parker debuted Currents earlier this summer, his third album under the Tame Impala moniker. Plenty of other people have noted what a huge change this album is for Parker – including Parker himself. On the track “Yes I’m Changing,” Parker sings with all his familiar bluntness: “Yes I’m older, yes I’m moving on. And if you don’t think it’s a crime you can come along, with me.” Parker has never been one to sugarcoat his thoughts, as he’s cranking out acid trip vibes over his Brian Wilson-esque falsetto. Part of Parker’s lonerism is not caring whether you’re along for the ride.

At first glance, Currents is a windows down, summer driving album. But even the slightest bit of attention to the subject matter shows Parker has some shit he wants to deal with. An extended play for existential crises, Currents is heavy on the angst right out of the gate on the seven-minute psychedelic opener, “Let It Happen:”

“If my ticker fails/Make up some other story”

The drums on this track are off the chain, and you may need a breather (despite only being one song in). Lucky for you, Nangs (yes, THOSE nangs) provides an early interlude, clocking in just shy of two minutes. The track’s only line is repeated multiple times: “Is there something more than that?” It seems to double as another ode to melancholy, as well as a statement that Parker has grown a tolerance for his drugs. Perhaps this single line is what sums up Currents as a whole.

On the cross-faded “Eventually,” Parker deals with heartbreak and moving on:

“I know I always said that I could never hurt you. Well this is the very very last time I’m ever going to. But I know that I’ll be happier. And I know you will too”

“Cause I’m a Man” attempts to give a glimpse into the reason for those failed relationships, singing, “Cause I’m a man, woman. Don’t always think before I do.” Lines like that lead one to think he’s apologizing, while other lines (“Cause I’m a man, woman. I’ll never be as strong as you”) make it unclear whether Parker is merely acknowledging his fragile masculinity or making excuses for it.

Album closer “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” works floating synths over a mucky bass line and a fatalistic outlook on life:

“You’ve got your demons, and she’s got her regrets. And I know that it’s hard to digest.”

From beginning to end, this album is crash course in existentialist angst – like Sartre with better hooks. But don’t let the bleak description fool you. The glimmers of light are few and far between, but the music provides all the hope you need.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

Like what you hear? Stream this album on Spotify and Apple Music. You can also buy it on vinyl from Amoeba, or check your local record store!

Featured Image by Courtney Caldwell

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Alex Rudewell

Alex Rudewell

Alex Rudewell is an intersectional Buddhist feminist. Her myriad talents include clogging your social media with pictures of her chihuahua, and occasionally her begrudging cat. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you can follow @alexrudewell on Twitter.

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