Review Summary: A familiar sound with only slight renovations. Lonerism lives up to the reputation of its predecessor and more.
The sound of psychedelia is such a wondrous entity. It's music that mystifies as well as allure, inviting the listener into trancing environments that disorient the senses and bewilder the mind with auditory hypnotism. Since the late 1960's, there have been various artists that have aspired to recreate the perceptual surrealism that is experienced under psychoactive drugs within their music. And though most musicians succeed in providing mind-altering atmospheres, very few manage to compose a sound that helps distinguish them from the rest. Tame Impala's debut effort, Innerspeaker
, may not have been anything revolutionary or relatively unique in style, but it did everything right. It understood the essence of the psychedelic sound. Simply being trippy doesn't cut it, each song has to offer a different meditative journey to embark on, and that's what made Innerspeaker
such an enticing album. Every song offered a new cosmic voyage to explore, one that mesmerized us right out of reality and left us astray inside its deranged melodic universes.
In retrospective, Lonerism
isn't too different from Innerspeaker
. Whether it's the lo-fi approach to its production or the disorienting surreal textures that coat its sound. Inevitably, this makes Lonerism
all the more accessible for all the loyal fans who have awaited its arrival ever so patiently. The album opens with "Be Above It"
and "Endors Toi"
, which exude the familiar atmospheric bliss and musical eccentricity that made their previous album so spellbinding. But as intriguing as both of these pieces may be, there is really nothing that is particularly grandeur about their presence. They act more like mood setters, simply present to guide our ascension into a psychedelic state of mind. "Apocalypse Dreams"
, on the other hand, flourishes with the very sound of Innerspeaker
that we have been anticipating. The coalescence of guitar and synthesizer effects produce an inviting fog of sensuous ambient delight. And when Kevin Parker begins to sing, with his voice decorated in distortion, it is a joyous treat to be reunited with that nostalgic sound. "Apocalypse Dreams"
, with its eclectic passages, is a very quasi-progressive odyssey, and one that coaxes our interest so intimately that it leaves us wishing this journey would never end.
and "Mind Mischief"
portray a completely different style altogether, and one we don't necessarily often hear from Tame Impala. Both songs, for the most part, reflect a much more simplified orchestration. They are stripped of all of the overwhelming psychedelic effects that usually overrun the music, and are instead driven by a very standard rock oriented groove. As always, Kevin Parker's blend of synthesizer and guitar arrangements are truly riveting throughout Lonerism
. Though nothing dexterously impressive and at times can seem a bit over-the-top, he nevertheless has great instinct on how to invigorate the melody of the music. Precisely choosing the right effects and notes to perform so as to compose the most compelling sound possible. "Sun's Coming Up"
exhibits yet another new approach by the band. It's a delicate piano ballad, which in the latter portion of its progression evolves into an erratic display of cosmic flourishes. It's interesting to see Tame Impala branching out of their comfort zone and exploring new musical techniques, even if they never stray too far away from their signature style. And as admirable as it may be to see the group broadening their horizon, it's much more pleasing to the see them regressing to their usual habits. "Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control"
and "Why Won't They Talk to Me""
are exhilarating passages through dreamy soundscapes and innovative musicianship. Songs like these perfectly exemplify how Tame Impala's music often loves to rest comfortably upon the thin dividing line that separates psychedelia from Progressive rock. They've really developed an undeniably elaborate musical style that is present throughout the majority of the album. These songs, for example, incorporate the expansive and complex instrumentation of Progressive rock, but the music is composed with catchy melodic ornaments that make them feel more like just really abstract pop songs.
is a very gratifying album and certainly a brilliant sequel to its predecessor. It provides a collection of songs that reflect typical lyrical themes, offering a similar view on humanity as their previous releases, one that really empathizes with the experiences of youth. The sexual and social awkwardness, personal insecurities, and the ever wavering concern of what the future holds- Kevin Parker explores all of these sentimental thoughts inside a psychedelic scenery meant to alter our perception, while describing situations so personal and emotionally universal, that it's as if he's directly illustrating moments from our own life. It's all very familiar, and as I said before, fans will feel right at home within the content of Lonerism
. The only drawback of the album is that it has less captivating moments than Innerspeaker
was a ridiculously accessible album filled with impactive songs that were all enticing enough to be potential hit singles. Lonerism
, on the other hand, is just a good album filled with good songs. Where Innerspeaker
aspired to impress us at every turn, Lonerism
is much more discreet and less concerned with being as seductive as possible. This album is more confident in itself, preferring to offer songs that grow on you rather than immediately instigate enthusiasm. The subtle Progressive rock influences that have often been evident in their past efforts are felt much more intimately in this album, as the compositional arrangements are textural and musically diverse. But don't let that intimidate your intrigue, it just means that there is more depth to explore in this album, so much to experience and take in. And when it's over, you'll find its content to be all the more rewarding because of it.