Tame Impala
Currents


3.0
good

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
July 15th, 2015 | 917 replies


Release Date: 07/17/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sounds like a million bucks. Feels like a three-dollar bill.

Give Kevin Parker this: give the man a major label budget and he will present you with a major label sound. Currents sounds like a million bucks. As compressed as some of the instruments can get here, it always sounds like everything is in its right place, buffed to a chromatic sheen and arranged just so. Those drums may not be to everyone’s taste, but the way they rustle around in the pocket before thundering forward is impeccable production design. Opener “Let It Happen” is arguably one of Parker’s best songs, an epic of scope that is a suitable landmark for how far Parker has come in just three albums of increasing vision. The fact that his trademark guitar only shows up in force once – a buzzsaw of a section, fair enough – and yet “Let It Happen” remains engrossing throughout is a testament to a singular songwriting ability. When “Let It Happen” devolves into a head fake of a record loop before coming out again into its synth motif, it’s Parker’s equivalent of a between the legs dunk. He’s at the top of his game.

Why, then, does so much of Currents feel like so many empty calories? I can’t say I particularly miss the guitar. Parker has proved himself an expert at so many things by now that his relative neglect of the instrument reveals unforeseen strengths. The celestial electro balladry in the swooning “Yes I’m Changing” and a new apparent mistress in the voluminous bass swells of “The Moment,” a song that has as heady a chorus as anything on Lonerism, are highlights. When the guitar shows up at the forefront, like it does in that little aside in “Let It Happen” or the funky “The Less I Know The Better,” you appreciate it more; not so much for Parker’s powerfully rhythmic playing, but for how it complements the rich tapestry Parker adorns everything else in. It’s reductive and doesn’t help really anyone by saying the hooks just aren’t there on the level they used to be, but it’s telling that I searched the rest of Currents in vain for anything as immediate as the crashing waterfall of multitracked vocals on the chorus to “The Moment.”

“Yes I’m Changing” is a lovely tune, and in its clarity (the laconic delivery of “they say people never change but that’s bullshit” is perfect) Parker finds his best expression for the record’s transparent themes of nostalgia, growing forward, and growing apart. Other tracks play with the same concepts but seem to get by on Parker’s studio ingenuity more than anything else. When he coats a steadfast kiss-off with a glittery major-key synth on “Eventually,” it’s an expensive way of doing what every guy has done, at one point or another: tried to make themselves not the asshole. In that respect, it’s slow, shuffling pace almost seems like a cruel joke in contrast to the painfully earnest “Yes I’m Changing.” That’s still better than the obtuse single “’Cause I’m A Man,” which almost seems like Parker winking at everyone who ever accused him of jacking his forebears’ style with a hilariously stereotypical lyric. That it chooses to double down on the hypnotic, druggy tempo only puts the focus on Parker’s posturing and a song that has plenty going on but nothing really propelling it forward. I did really appreciate the falsetto gasps though.

At other points, Parker even gets lost in his own usually bulletproof production. “Past Life” is an absolutely absurd spoken word and pitched-down narrative of Parker picking up his dry cleaning and reminiscing about an old fling along to a soundtrack that sounds like M83 on muscle relaxers. “Disciples” is a promising late ‘70s keyboard ditty that fades away before it can really get going, unlike “Nangs” and “Gossip,” little bits of underdeveloped texture that nevertheless serve a crucial connective role here. Closer “New Person, Same Mistakes,” meanwhile, is the mirror image to “Let It Happen,” a multi-suite song that revolves around a distinctive motif – in this case, a titanic bass line. Where “Let It Happen” tied its disparate parts into a coherent whole, “New Person” tends to shift gears without much rhyme or reason, reverb for the sake of reverb. Layers and layers of sound pile on top of one another, obscuring any message, any meaning, except for the decadent beauty of gorging yourself to the brim. It’s a song in search of a lesson that any obsessive has learned at one point in their lives: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.



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user ratings (839)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2015


11590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

serving up hot takes since 2008



"Let It Happen" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ed6UeDp1ek

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TheSpaceMan
July 15th 2015


8319 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

shame but sorta expected. nice job, perfect review to prepare me for the dissapointment



edit: whoa sputs been way ahead of me on this one

skoopy48
July 15th 2015


1860 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I hope I disagree

Digging: Land Of Talk - Applause Cheer Boo Hiss

Flugmorph
July 15th 2015


15844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

klap is back

Digging: The Mayan Factor - In Lake 'CH

larrytheslug
July 15th 2015


1587 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

im not listening to this until i figure out the illusion on the album art. no cheat codes either!

iGuter
July 15th 2015


400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I completely disagree with this.

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2015


8235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

disagreed



ahrd.

Digging: (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket

klap
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2015


11590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

¯_(ツ)_/¯

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2015


38476 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

couldn't disagree more on Cause I'm a Man - if anything it's him being self-deprecating not obtuse



great review tho

Digging: A Lot Like Birds - DIVISI

Fieryfenderz
July 15th 2015


1814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm not angry. Just disappointed.

brainmelter
July 15th 2015


3778 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

agreed MECHA hard

Digging: The Newfound Interest in Connecticut - Tell Me About the Long Dark Path Home

ti0n
July 15th 2015


1757 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"couldn't disagree more on Cause I'm a Man - if anything it's him being self-deprecating not obtuse"



yeah. klap did you listen to another song?

Digging: Forest Swords - Compassion

guitarded_chuck
July 15th 2015


12745 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

tame impala more like LAME imapala AMIRITE rofl

Digging: Ugly Casanova - Sharpen Your Teeth

guitarded_chuck
July 15th 2015


12745 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you know the shittiest thing about this site and what keeps it from being more modern and probably hinders it's popularity a bit as well



the fact it's lack any democratic process and any way to reward what readers believe is the most well written review



we should be able to vote on what reviews we like best similar to the reddit style of voting and the reviews with the greatest support will be the one's featured, not the "staff" reviewers



fuck that



just a guy who's been here probably longer than all of you but anyway, as you were

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2015


15560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

The first half of this is near perfect

Digging: Paramore - After Laughter

Piglet
July 15th 2015


6839 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

problemon with that is that it won't always feature the most "well-written" review (just look at any review which is good but because it is an unpopular opinion, gets neg'd the fuck out of, this review for example would be just that). Sure what you propose could be better than the system we currently have in many ways and I agree that a lot of staff reviewers on this website are staff reviewers because of quantity, not quality. Some of their reviews don't deserve the pedestal they are put on and that is where a reddit-style down and up voting would be an advantage, but I don't think it changes anything in the big picture of this website.





Brostep
Emeritus
July 15th 2015


4286 Comments


"¯_(ツ)_/¯"

what the fuck happened to that dude's right arm klap

JWT155
July 15th 2015


13229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I like Past Life, reminds me of Prince. Excellent review as always Rudy.

Brostep
Emeritus
July 15th 2015


4286 Comments


"we should be able to vote on what reviews we like best similar to the reddit style of voting and the reviews with the greatest support will be the one's featured, not the "staff" reviewers"

I'd support this except what it would inevitably turn into would be that any decently-written review with the score the most people agree on will be the one featured. There are a bunch of issues with reddit-style voting (which other people have covered, like here: http://io9.com/how-upvote-downvote-sites-like-reddit-breed-irrational-1067235954 ), and so it's decent to have an all-right quality control system in place in the form of staff/mods/admins deciding who are the best writers on site and who should be allowed to decide who are the best writers in the future. Not everything written by a staffer is excellent, of course - I've written my fair share of trash reviews - but chances are people complaining about a review will not have read the review (or else they'd have specific issues with the review). And obviously that's not always true, but I remember a review of the newest Nicki Minaj I did about 8 months ago where people who had clearly not read a word I'd written complained profusely about the score.

so essentially tl;dr the staff system is kinda already a quality control we've put in place. as others have said, it's not always perfect (quantity-over-quality isn't a rule we adhere to but we definitely take into account how often people write when we're considering them for a promotion) but it's typically at least all right. plus occasionally staffers will even advocate for a contrib/user review to split feature time with their own if they believe it's well-written enough

alternative tl;dr: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Brostep
Emeritus
July 15th 2015


4286 Comments


god damn this site just does not want the shruggie copy-paste to have a complete right arm



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