“But I know that I’ll be happier, and I know you will, too.”
It was a volunteer colleague by the name of Kevin who first planted the name “Tame Impala” into my brain, way back several years ago at one of our organization’s famous Han Dynasty fundraiser dinners. Not quite sure what album he was playing from then, but it didn’t fully stick until another friend of a great many years, Krystal, posted Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, from the Lonerism album, onto our facebook feed. That sort of propelled Tame Impala to one of my top bands of the year for 2013. I did even get to see their mind-blowing live show at the Electric Factory with my cousin, Angie. To say that 2015’s follow-up was long anticipated would be an understatement.
When I did finally get a hold of Currents, I wasn’t immediately enamored. I loved Lonerism because it reinvented classic rock guitar psychedelia for the 21st century. Currents was a deliberate departure from that groove to more of an electronic sound painting. Pitchforks notes more than once in its 2015 review the “near total absence” of guitars. That’s not a direction I would generally favor, although I do appreciate the adventurism.
When I buy a band’s new album, I do want it to sound substantially like the old album—but I also want to hear something new. It’s a tough balance for any band to strike. I’d have to say that I appreciate a band’s attempt to evolve over stagnating, even if I’m not fully on board with the direction they’ve chosen to travel. And there are elements of Currents that reward repeated listenings, especially in a small room with four speakers and two subwoofers. It’s a fine album, even though for me personally it did not deliver what Lonerism did.