Tame Impala returns with serendipitous “The Slow Rush”

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Polydor

Tame Impala’s new album “The Slow Rush” is serendipitous and dreamy, perfectly embodying Kevin Parker’s signature psychedelic sound.

By Riya Mehta and Amrita Himmatraopet

On Feb. 14, psychedelic rock musician Kevin Parker, more famously known as Tame Impala, released his fourth studio album “The Slow Rush.”

Mysterious and echoey, the album begins with a fast beat and ominous tone on “One More Year.” Parker talks about living life to the fullest without any regrets and not letting the restrictions of time hold him back. He repeats the title of the track several times, claiming he is “livin’ like I’m only livin’ for me (one more year),” highlighting his new approach to life after contemplation. 

Woozy and unfaltering, “Borderline” is the kind of song that gets people tapping their feet to the beat. Though not as upbeat as “Lost In Yesterday” and not as subtle as hit track “Posthumous Forgiveness,” the song still holds body and rhythm.

Fittingly, “Borderline” is about a relationship in its last few stages. In the second verse, Parker sings about being “caught between the tides of pain and rapture.” This elaborates on the pain of knowing a relationship is coming to a close while also being excited for the freedom from the hurt caused by it. Parker’s affliction as he questions the nature of love is clear in his lyrics, “Will I be known and loved? / Little closer, close enough / I’m a loser, loosen up / Set it free, must be tough.” Chock-full of synths and distorted vocals, “Borderline” is melodious and melancholy, perfectly assimilating senses of uncertainty and delirium.

“Posthumous Forgiveness” begins with a nostalgic tune, where Parker reveals a longing for someone else. The electropop of his voice adds another layer to the song and transports the listener to another dimension, similar to his hit song “The Less I Know The Better” from 2015 album “Currents.” The punch of the drums, atop the already-familiar chorus, adds an extra kick to the song and contributes to the pain that is visible in Parker’s voice.

About four minutes into the song, he transitions into a completely different aesthetic, more optimistic with words such as “recover” and phrases like “one with each other.” He sings on a higher pitch; this part could almost be mistaken for a completely different song. Overall, it is actually very personal to Parker, as it is him finally coming to peace with his father, Jerry, passing away from cancer. Throughout the song, Parker is angry at his father for leaving him and his brother on their own, but only truly forgives Jerry at the end of the song. 

Halfway through the album, “Tomorrow’s Dust” twists into a relaxing strum of the guitar from the previous and more intense song, “Breathe Deeper.” Once again, the addition of the electric guitar and later Parker’s voice adds a soothing touch. Parker adds more jazz to the song as it continues, making one cohesive beach party for the summer. Furthermore, there is a constant drum beat in the background that adds to the warm atmosphere of the song. Altogether, the funkiness and psychedelic rock of this song makes it one of the favorites of this album. The song touches on Parker’s past relationship, and his efforts to move past it without being consumed by the old memories, once again touching the theme of time.

A fan favorite from the album, “Lost In Yesterday” starts off dreamy, the guitar adding a funky beat. Layers of Parker’s voice and instrumentation give the song an echoey sound as the song continues his signature whimsical style. The chorus includes lyrics, “Cause it might’ve been something, who’s to say? / Does it help to get lost in yesterday?”, essentially saying to have no regrets because the outcome is unknown and immutable.

The upbeat steadiness continues throughout the song. After the bridge, it doesn’t completely circle back to the main chorus but instead fades into the final words “erase it,” an abrupt finish that leaves listeners on edge. This song contributes to the theme of the album in which Parker has to persevere through life and accept the change that comes. In other words, he needs to “Let It Happen,” a song from “Currents” with a very similar theme. 

Playful and buoyant, “Is It True” is about young love and uncertainty. In the first verse, Parker sings, “And I tell her I’m in love with her / But how can I know that I’ll always be?”, alluding to his parents’ relationship, which ended when Parker was just 3. The song itself sounds like it could be played in the background of a cartoon, with an impeccable bassline and vivacious synths and guitar. Ultimately, “Is It True” is exciting, fun and pleasant to listen to.

Sticking with the same mindset, “It Might Be Time” continues the dreamy pop aesthetic with Parker’s guitar and a steady beat of the drums, similar to “Tomorrow’s Dust.” His voice lies almost in a different dimension, sounding distant yet close at the same time. Lyrics like “It might be time to face it” show Parker telling himself to continue with life and face its obstacles. However, in the second verse, Parker describes the empty promises of his close friends, and how all of them have moved on and changed, something he has always dreaded. Parker is living in this dream and doesn’t want to come back to reality, possibly because he is scared of being unable to compete with his previous success. The bridge, however, transitions into a soft and mellow addition to the song, and the guitar continues to recur. The song is unpredictable, with the addition of a bass halfway through the song. The last 30 seconds of the song include a funky piano composition, and its abrupt ending is similar to “Lost In Yesterday.”

Before concluding the album, Parker includes track 11, “Glimmer,” the shortest song of the list. Almost completely instrumental, the song is very similar to elevator music, due to its jazz-inspired elements and repetitive sounds. It segues into the final seven-minute track, “One More Hour.”

The end of the album, and probably the most dramatic segment of the 58-minute journey through Parker’s mind, “One More Hour,” reflects on everything Parker has taken from life and the lessons he has learned. He embraces time but doesn’t let it control him.

The most interesting aspect of the song relates “Keep on Lying” from album “Lonerism,” where Parker emphasizes how he will explain how he has fallen out of love in his relationship by the “end of this song.” These lyrics loop for about four minutes and ultimately hint that Parker never truly talked to his lover about his feelings by the end.

However, Parker ends the final minutes of “One More Hour” with another loop about his hopefulness for the life he has now. The upbeat drums and the addition of a powerful electric guitar toward these final minutes attest to this message perfectly, leaving listeners with a bittersweet feeling, desiring more. 

After five long years, Parker doesn’t disappoint with emotional and inspirational “The Slow Rush,” pouring his heart and soul into his work. Creating music that transcends time itself, Parker seems to be in no rush at all.

This story was originally published on Wildcat Tribune on March 9, 2020.