A couple of years ago, Geoffrey called me up one morning to babble enthusiastically about one of the approximately 300 bands he sees per year that he had seen the previous evening, an act he said was called Tim and Paula. “Tim and Paula,” I asked, “are they a folk duo?” G got a good laugh out of that before correcting me, “No, not Tim and Paula, Tame Impala!” And so it came to be that Tame Impala, an amazing psychedelic rock quartet from Australia, are known between Geoffrey and me now and forever as Tim and Paula. The album that turned me on to this group is called Innerspeaker, and it surely would have been among my favorite CDs of 2010 had I heard it in time for it to make that year’s list. Sadly, I was a little late to the party. Still, I’ll always be grateful to Geoffrey for hipping me to one of the best new bands I’ve heard since MGMT breathed new life into my record collection with the release of its first album. Because, seriously, the last time I heard any music that I could say even remotely reminded me of the genius of The Beatles was when I heard Radiohead’s “Karma Police.” And that was a long time ago.
Tame Impala just released its sophomore album, Lonerism, and I can assure you it is currently vying for the number one position on this year’s Top 10 CDs list. Produced by vocalist Kevin Parker and mixed by the gifted Dave Friddman (best known for his work with Mercury Rev), Lonerism serves up a swirling vortex of aural bliss. Aside from the opening track, “Be Above It” – which sounds like the well-intentioned result of Tame Impala being hired to write a self-empowering commercial jingle for a brand of sneakers, every track on Lonerism lives up to all the hype that’s been circulating for the two years since Innerspeaker fractured skulls across the globe with its brilliance.
There is so much to love about this CD that it is almost impossible to contain my squeals of ecstatic delight. “Endors Toi” sounds like “Magical Mystery Tour” with Keith Moon on drums and “Apocalypse Dreams” is the kind of song I wish they’d played at the local roller skating rink I frequented as a pre-teen. “Music to Walk Home By” – which deserves an award for its title alone – comes as close to approximating an aural representation of the physical effects of hallucinogenic drugs as the most psychedelic Pink Floyd song. Parker’s voice may owe a heavy debt to reverb and a few hits off a tank of nitrous, but he really knows how to work it. I mean, check out “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and tell me that the influence of John Lennon’s “Number Nine Dream” didn’t work its way in there at least subconsciously. Holy cow, what a great album.
It’s sad to think that kids today (did I really just type “kids today”?) will never know the incomparable joy of discovering a band like The Who or Queen while that band is still making new records (a joy that I got to experience first hand, having been born a million years ago), but anyone discovering Tame Impala’s Lonerism can read that sentence above and understand that hearing this album in 2012 creates, for me, a transcendent-bordering-on-religious experience comparable to how it felt listening to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” for the first time, on vinyl, back in the stone age. Album of The Year!