Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

The Slow Rush is a partial reinvention of the Tame Impala sound, with Kevin Parker arranging vast soundscapes shaded with a human touch

Album Review by Max Sefton | 13 Feb 2020
  • Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Album title: The Slow Rush
Artist: Tame Impala
Label: Fiction Records
Release date: 14 Feb

From a Cream-influenced trio of Aussie psychonauts, through baggy psychedelia, to the kind of rare muso/producer hybrid who can collaborate with Travis Scott and Lady Gaga and headline Coachella, it’s been a winding path for Kevin Parker.

The Slow Rush, the fourth Tame Impala album, finds Parker in a contemplative mood. He told The New York Times earlier this year: “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes.” This is as apparent on the page as it is on a stereo, with a host of song titles obsessed with the passage of seconds, minutes and hours.

On opener One More Year, hazy vocals dappled in sunlight give way to clipped drums and an R'n'B bassline as Parker wonders whether he's allowing opportunities to pass him by. Left to his own devices Parker is still not the strongest vocalist in the world but he more than makes up for it with a free-flowing approach to musical cross pollination and his command of a battalion of synthesizers. Much of The Slow Rush sounds like it should come from a cast of thousands, yet all 12 tracks were recorded, produced, and mixed by Parker himself, either in Los Angeles or at his studio in his hometown of Fremantle, Australia.

From the paranoid inner observer of It Might Be Time to the complex yet sweetly melodic Lost in Yesterday, which nails the sweet spot of FM rock staples like Supertramp or Steely Dan, The Slow Rush is never less than inventive. Parker arranges vast artifices, yet shading them with a universal human touch. Singles Borderline and Posthumous Forgiveness have some of Eagles’ Golden State languor, but there are also touches of another California resident with a meticulous approach to production too: Frank Ocean.

If the front half of the record could fit equally well in a festival field as it would soundtracking a hip boutique, there are still moments that qualify as real experiments, like Glimmer, a cheeky tropical house snippet inserted into the latter half of the tightly edited collection. A rock band going electronic hasn’t been a frontier-breaking move for decades, but it’s rare to find a major league act committing to the change to such a degree. Even better, it’s sequenced in such a way that it feels like an organic part of something larger.

Perhaps due to its creator’s vast range of outside interests, or maybe because of Parker's tendency to shake the kaleidoscope between records, but The Slow Rush is a record that comes with a certain weight of expectation, yet a blank canvas for how it might sound. This time it’s only a partial reinvention, but by the time the huge guitars and stereo panning of One More Hour fade away, there’s no doubt that Kevin Parker is a man with his own unique sense of time.

Listen to: Lost in Yesterday, Borderline