Tame Impala Fans Running Out of Patience

Jake Allen

After showcasing new singles on SNL and headlining Coachella in spring, it looked as if a new album from Austrailian psychedelic/electronic band Tame Impala was imminent. Four long years after the breakthrough success of 2015’s Currents, the group strung together a series of notable performances in 2019 at Austin City Limits, Boston Calling, and Lollapalooza, fostering excitement and anticipation in fans. Yet, the summer of 2019 is over with shorter days, falling leaves, colder weather, and no new Tame Impala to warm us up. Why is it that this band, with more media attention and a larger fanbase than ever, is failing to release long-awaited new music?

The answer lies in one of the prevailing issues of our generation: global warming.

In an interview with the New York Times, frontman Kevin Parker (pictured above) revealed that he started recording in late 2018 at an Airbnb in Malibu, CA. Following a productive first night, the singer was awoken early the next morning to the sight of smoke and flames surrounding the home, realizing he was caught in a deadly wildfire. Parker only managed to save a bass guitar (his vintage ‘60’s Hofner 500/1) and the laptop containing his new music, leaving all of his other instruments and recording equipment to parish. Nothing that happened was anything he could control, and fortunately was not too distressed to make more music. Foreword senior staff writer, Omri Raz suggested, “Maybe the album was just too lit.”

However, to truly understand the delay in Tame Impala’s new music, one must understand the group is not a band, but actually a one-man effort of frontman Kevin Parker who writes, records, mixes, and produces all of the music by himself. It’s a common misconception given their elaborate sound and live performances.

His successful D-I-Y approach soon attracted the attention of other musicians, allowing Parker to start quietly working in the worlds of rap and R&B. His skills alone as both a musician and engineer allowed him to go from performing Beatles-like songs in his isolated hometown of Perth, Australia to working with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Kanye West, Rhianna and Lady Gaga in America. 

His contributions can be heard on Rhianna’s “Same ‘Ol Mistakes”, Travis Scott’s “Skeletons”, Kanye’s “Ghost Town”, and supposedly on Post Malone’s “Circles”.

Given that his process is isolated and free of deadlines, Parker has admitted in multiple interviews to obsessing over the smallest details of his songs, delaying the songwriting as a result. However, the high degree of creative freedom is what allows Tame Impala’s music to thrive. Without full control over his music, we wouldn’t get a song like “Let It Happen” that’s nearly eight minutes with its extended electronic breakdown, but exemplifies their creativity and experimentation.

Like most successful artists before them Tame Impala’s music constantly evolves, leaving endless possibilities for the sound of their new album.  While 2010’s InnerSpeaker sounds like a collection of John Lennon outtakes and B-sides, Lonerism (2012) and Currents (2015) feature elegant production with pop and electronic sensibilities while staying true to their rock roots. 

Prevalent to all of their albums is a core of rock drums and melodic bass lines, on top of which dizzying and hypnotic synths and phased guitars are added. Despite differing sounds, all three albums have a good flow with tracks seamlessly transitioning into each other, sometimes with minute-long interludes and instrumentals, and other times with similar instruments and chord progressions. Personal favorites are “She Just Won’t Believe Me”, “Nangs”, and “Gossip”.

Allderdice senior Julian Junaidi, when asked about the group, said, “What can’t I say about them? I’m stoked and I’ve never been disappointed by them.” Allderdice principal, Dr McCoy also admits to listening to Tame Impala, claiming his favorite song is “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and explaining that he prefers the rock sound of Lonerism over the electronic sound of Currents.

“Patience”, the aptly-named first release 2019, sounds as smooth and pretty as ever, but adds light elements of house music as well as a unique mix of congas and an ambient piano riffs. 

“Borderline” continued this trend, emphasizing Parker’s vocal range more prominently than any of his past work. Compared to the usual wall of sound he creates, this song is relatively thin, allowing for the soulful and emotional lyrics to shine through.

So when will the new album come out?