Album Review: Tame Impala, The Slow Rush

‘Let’s drink this magic potion of love and emotion...’ Tame Impala’s fourth LP, The Slow Rush, marks five years of anticipation for fans, since the release of Currents in 2015. Full of psychedelic synthesiser beats and dreamy electric guitar, the long awaited album does not disappoint. 

Rather than resembling the psychedelic rock genre Tame Impala are normally associated with, this album instead contains a more electro-alternative sound, with moments of pop and rock woven through synthy beats, deep electric guitar tones and Parker’s simultaneously upbeat and melancholic Bee Gees-esque vocals. It’s been five long years since Tame Impala’s last album, Currents, was released, and a lot has happened for multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter Kevin Parker since then, and this album knows it. The Slow Rush focuses on where Parker has been and where he is going, both within his music and without. Ideas of duality also resonate throughout the album, with its title itself an oxymoron and many of the tracks feeling like two separate songs put together, creating the experimental, psychedelic-quality Tame Impala has become known for.

‘Strictly speaking I’m still on track…’

The songs are long, with half over 5 minutes long, but each is a testament to Kevin Parker’s musical and lyrical genius. Parker’s breezy, angelic vocals intertwine with an electric guitar running throughout many of the songs, creating a cohesion to the album’s tracks which move from darker, bassier moments to lighter, carefree notes with a beautiful ease that’ll take the listener through a range of emotions. 

The Slow Rush’s first track ‘One More Year’ is a synthy and slow introduction to the album, introducing its main focus of time, namely where Parker has been and where he is now, both personally and in his music. Moving onto ‘Instant Destiny’, more upbeat, electro-background beats meld with Parker’s vocals as he sings about his marriage to his wife Sophie in 2019 during the production of the album. 

‘We can get a home in Miami, go and get married / Tattoo your name on my arm’

‘Borderline’, originally released in April 2019 as the first single from the album, appears on The Slow Rush in ‘reworked form’, as Parker told BBC Radio 1’s Future Sounds last year. To those who’ve listened to the single, the new ‘Borderline’ has new lyrics, more depth to the music and deeper electric guitar notes throughout – ever the perfectionist, Parker’s reworking is, in my opinion, a richer, more complex version of the original song and my favourite track from the album. Also released a single in December of last year, ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’ focuses on Parker’s relationship with his late father. Lyrically, this is the greatest song on the LP and also the most haunting: the words and melody create a confused, psychedelic yet angry picture of the complex relationship between father and son which moves into a heartbreaking Part 2 in the final minutes of the track where a very different sound emerges as Parker laments all the things he will never share with his father. 

‘Wanna play you all my songs, and hear your voice sing along…’

A repeating, pop-like refrain with 80s style keyboard makes up ‘Breathe Deeper’, another track which again seems to have two very different parts, with the second taking on a much less conventional, synth heavy feel much more reminiscent of typical Tame Impala sound. ‘Tomorrow’s Dust’ again, however, moves away from this sound, as Parker mixes his light vocals with heavy percussion and acoustic guitar which make the song feel like a summer’s day. The album slows down at ‘On Track’, aptly marking the halfway point in the LP. The synthesiser sounds return as Parker lamentingly sings ‘strictly speaking I’m still on track’, though he may be leading us to question whether he really is as the song slides from slow and melancholic to powerful and optimistic while the sound itself moves between your ears (with headphones on) creating an ethereal feel intercut with electric guitar. 

‘Lost in Yesterday’ and ‘Is It True’ are two of the more upbeat, dancey songs of the album which feel much more pop than rock. ‘Is It True’ combines ideas of his own and his parents divorce explored in the other tracks, perhaps exposing his fears that history will repeat itself in his own marriage. The themes of time and relationships once again culminate in ‘It Might Be Time’, also released as a single in 2019, as it covers how people change with time, and the effect this can have on personal relationships. The song also tracks Parker’s own relationship with his music over time, as he wrote on Instagram, the track reflects one’s “own inner paranoid thoughts telling them they’ve lost your mojo”. Rather than the track being downbeat however, ‘It Might Be Time’ hides its doubting lyrics behind its funky, dancey sound.

‘I’ve been lost before / So tell me it’s not over’

‘Glimmer’ is an experimental, synthy piece which feels like an ode to the outros of the rest of the songs as it similarly focuses more on the sound of the music itself, with less lyrical interruption from Parker, while ‘One More Hour’, the final track of the album, brings The Slow Rush full circle. The song looks at how far Parker has come, “the start of the album was setting out a year, and then like, “One More Hour” was gonna be the last hour of that year, you know like where have we come to?’” ‘One More Hour’ sounds almost musical-esque, both dramatic yet still featuring heavily the typical Tame Impala vibe. The track’s quick, tapping beat constantly feels like its building to a crescendo which culminates in full drums, synth and electric guitar.

‘All these people said we wouldn’t last a minute, dear, I’m with you and I can roll into another year…’

From the synthy beats of Breathe Deeper, to the acoustic guitar of Tomorrow’s Dust, to the rock crescendo of One More Hour, each track is as addictive and soul permeating as the next. Though a couple of songs are at times a bit slow for my personal taste, the album is unquestionably awesome, moving, fun, melancholy and uplifting. The Slow Rush releases on Friday 14th February so give it a listen – you won’t be disappointed. 


Francesca Hadland

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