Superbly psychedelic second set with a very British-sounding soul.
Martin Aston 2012
Lonerism’s cover shot peers through a gate at a row of reclining sunbathers in what looks like Le Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. In other words, not very psychedelic. Yet there’s currently nothing more psychedelic on earth than Perth quintet Tame Impala, whose penchant for feeding everything through pedal-tastic reverb-flanging-Echoplexed-backwards-fuzzboz FX makes a shoegaze band resemble an acoustic folk duo by comparison.
Like their brilliant 2010 debut album Innerspeaker, Lonerism is self-produced and mixed by Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev producer David Fridmann. Yet for all the Oz roots and American connection, the album’s soul is so very British. Set the controls for the heart of the sun, matey, we’re going on a magical mystery tour. Whether singer Kevin Parker can help his uncanny resemblance to John Lennon is a moot point given the music’s eagerness to tap The Beatles in their psychedelic pomp. Fortunately Parker’s reach is vaster still. Lonerism’s giddy directions are as shiny and dazzling as that sun Tame Impala are flying into.
Parker suitably sums up the experience in song titles such as Apocalypse Dreams, Mind Mischief and Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control, the last of which might refer to the band’s Next Big Rock Thing coronation. Next to the mid-80s American neo-psych revival called the Paisley Underground, Tame Impala are the progenitors of Paisley Overdrive, and its momentum is both irresistible and unstoppable.
Yet if Lonerism’s epic psych-gasm has a weak spot, it’s how it rarely slows down to take in the extraordinary view whizzing by. Even the initially relaxed glide of Keep on Lying is overtaken by human chatter, triple-layered guitar parts and enough echo to turn your speakers into a hall of mirrors. Right at journey’s end, Sun’s Coming Up provides some necessary contrast and distinct songwriting (rather than the concerted effort to emulate Tomorrow Never Knows) that, if repeated elsewhere, would have elevated Lonerism even higher.
But such is the speed of life when you’re driven by a mission. If Tame Impala only turn out to be the Animal Collective of space rock, that’s still a great place to arrive.