Review Summary: "Innerspeaker" is what The Beatles would sound like if they took EVEN MORE drugs with a dash of Led Zeppelin and Cream. The albums nostalgic lo-fi spaced out psychedelia, while nothing groundbreaking, does a lot of things pitch-perfectly right.
Innerspeaker, the new album from new nostalgic psychedelic group Tame Impala, is one of my favorite albums of 2010 thus far. This Australian group might garner some relation to fellow Aussies - Wolfmother, but rest assured these guys are occupying a whole new breed of retro-rock. The album is trance-inducing with its grooves, while in your face and full with its all-encompassing mixing. guitars frequently pan around your head like jets overhead flying through clouds perhaps a bit smokier then your average cumulus. This album is absolutely drenched in sonic soundscapes of thick walls of crunching lo-fi guitar riffs. The bass grounds the music into its skeleton with melodic thumping trance-like lines. The drums are barreling and immediate in their execution and will plummet your body into pulsing with them. The vocals are some spaced-out otherworldly harmonies that will have you singing along. This album, while nothing groundbreaking, does quite a lot of things pitch-perfectly right.
The album glides through 11 tracks of crunching dizzying psychedelia effortlessly. After kicking things off with some feedback the sound of the album becomes immediately apparent, and remains consistent through the album. They occupy this really raw yet spacious sound throughout the album that really allows for full aural assault and spaced out jams to occur all with a feeling of energy and immediacy. The album sounds like what would happen if The Beatles took EVEN MORE drugs with a dash of Cream.
If you had any doubts, this is one trippy album. In an attempt to let us in on perhaps their creative process - it doesn't take more than 2min into the album before singer Kevin Parker says "She doesn't like the life that I lead / Doesn't like sand stuck on her feet / Or sitting around smoking weed". The vocals echo out around the fuzzed out unraveled sound the band creates, soaked in delay and reverb. The songs deal with themes like the Ego, existence, perception, and the inner-self. Early standout "Desire Be Desire Go" has a fantastic chorus of alternating lyrics "Every day, back and forth, whats it for?" that begin to get jumbled up much in the same way that our day-by-day life begins to. "Alter Ego" has a driving beat with percussion that begins to spiral out during the verse only to be set back on track in time for the lyrics "Oh alter ego".
After the first 5 tracks successfully blow your mind, you are then treated to "Solitude is Bliss", which is the first single off the album. This move makes sense as the song is a bit more groovy and danceable then most of the tracks on the album. the chorus "You will never come close to how I feel" is totally infectious and again echos into the cosmos before bursting into the absolutely stellar Beatles-esque bridge.
While I could (and will in just a second) go on and on about the strengths of this album, perhaps the weakest tracks are the instrumental "Jeremy's Storm" which, while interesting enough, could have served to have been a bit shorter, and "Expectations". Expectations is a conflicting song for me, because for about the first half it just feels middle of the road, but after bursting out with the repeating and soaring "Meeaaaannnwhhiiiiiile" about 3min in it begins to go back to the regular structure before fading out and coming back more distorted than ever as if the song has flipped over and we are now seeing its flanger-heavy underbelly. Slowly getting bigger and bigger before abruptly cutting out.
This album most certainly goes out with a bang. The final 3 tracks are perhaps the best of the album. Kicking off the third act of this album is the most badass song of the album "Bold Arrow of Time". A crunching lo-fi guitar riff reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and Cream lurches through before giving way to a dream-like verse. The song kicks into overdrive for a freak out of noise-solos and persistent tom-heavy fills later before warping into a mini-song finale of acoustic strumming and synth work. Bold Arrow is followed by the fantastically noisy drugged out trip-epic "Runway, Houses, City, Clouds" that morphs seamlessly from the schizophrenic back and forth of buzzing riff-age and the harmonizing soaring verses to a melodic mellow guitar riff bouncing around through its incredible instrumental last half. To say this song is a modern psychedelic epic is an understatement. The album closes with "I Don't Really Mind". A great catchy noise-riff, stop-start, psychedelic-pop song of the highest caliber complete with an out of nowhere dissonant mid-section that feels as if the song just took a little too much of its substance of choice before latching back on to reality to finish off the album with a repeating chilled-out chorus I dare you to not sing along with.
If Tame Impala can continue to make albums as good as this, we may have ourselves the newest and greatest entry into the psychedelic arsenal of artists. Innerspeaker is an album that perhaps may fall through the cracks in 2010, but don't let it escape your ears. Sit back, relax in whatever way you like to best, get some headphones, and listen to this album! Groovy.