Tame Impala Innerspeaker Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Australians’ debut displays an intuitive feel for psychedelia’s insurgent streak.

Alex Denney 2010

Ours is an age of fleeting connections, a mad proliferation of voices issuing forth from speakers unknown. With the chorus line of the digital era swiftly becoming a cacophony, there’s much to be said for locating one’s innerspeaker, a term Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker uses to explain the feeling he gets when he’s at his most inspired.

It’s also the title of his band’s first full-length, the logical conclusion of a lifetime spent honing skills in Perth, Western Australia, one of the world’s most secluded cities. Logical because Innerspeaker is a record half a world away from the kind of artistic pretense that regularly infects bands of Tame Impala’s age and relative inexperience.

With the assistance of Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev producer Dave Fridmann they’ve constructed a sound big enough to park aeroplanes in, and every idea on here is attacked with virtuosic brio and an open mind. Essentially a psychedelic jam suite perfectly encapsulating Parker’s own summation of the genre as “kind of emotive and childlike and f***** up all at the same time”, Innerspeaker has none of the predictable trappings of a modern-day psych record and liquid ambience aplenty.

First track It Is Not Meant To Be rides in on a wave of third-eye guitar jangle and magic carpet bass, the band playing with the sort of empathic intelligence that’s made Dungen a wonder of the retro-rocking world. Then they coax wicked sounds from their guitars on Desire Be Desire Go, which again does hippie with none of the whimsy and all of the danger. Parker’s vocals, meanwhile, recall late-period Beatles – dreamy, distracted and ever so slightly paranoid.

That isn’t to say Innerspeaker is completely devoid of contemporary sounds – Alter Ego marries the colours-run, shoegazey texture of an Atlas Sound cut with racing, druggy beats. And Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind? has a fine Stereolab-esque groove which evokes, strangely enough, Bradford Cox’s collaboration with the ‘Lab’s own Laetitia Sadier, Quick Canal. Elsewhere, Bold Arrow of Time is one of the few moments on the record to explicitly tap the psychedelic blues root – Cream would be an obvious reference point here, but we’ll go instead with the expansiveness of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The band recently opened for MGMT in the US. But while they undoubtedly remain more of a boutique concern than Messrs VanWyngarden and Goldwasser, with Innerspeaker Tame Impala display an intuitive feel for psychedelia’s insurgent streak and joy in non-conformity that’s far in excess of their peers.

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