Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
Head trips in every key are wafting northward from the opposite hemisphere thanks to Australia’s Tame Impala. Their debut full-length, Innerspeaker, marks one of the most jaw-dropping offerings in the recent past. Plenty of songs are suited for headphone enjoyment, but Innerspeaker begs for full volume so as to fully illustrate every nuance of their kaleidoscopic keyboards, guitar riffs and ball-breaking rhythms. Between its four members Tame Impala harnesses a ferocious energy as savage and unruly as the outback, so applying maximum space and volume to their psychedelic drones and acid-rock guitars is a matter of necessity. Their sound reflects plenty of vitamin-packed Sixties bands (the Electric Prunes, the Strawberry Alarm Clock), but most startlingly invokes Revolver-era Beatles, the Doors and the Seeds. They’re high and they’re happy and they’re free (to quote Devendra Banhart), but Tame Impala are hardly the Next Big Thing. They’re the next thing, period.
Innerspeaker is a trip and a half from the start: even its cover art is hallucinatory enough to bring on a flashback. Joining Tame Impala on their magical mystery tour is mixmaster Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips), who adds his inimitable touch to “It’s Not Meant to Be” and “Expectation,” both of which find the band at its most hallucinogenic. The awards have begun pouring in (the band took home the J Award for Australian Album of the year last year and earned no fewer than five ARIA Artisan Award nominations last year), and there’s little reason to doubt why. The riff belongs to Tame Impala, as does the chorus. “Why won’t you make up your mind?” singer and guitarist Kevin Parker pleads. “Give me a sign.” The liquid-light show continues with “Desire Be Desire Go,” which kicks off with a woofer-blowing turbo riff that shouldn’t go anywhere close to an open flame. Tame Impala’s lyrics are economical, a perfect companion to the group’s heady noise (“Cracks in the pavement underneath my shoe/I care less and less and less about, less about you.”) Mere throwbacks they’re not: Tame Impala is as raw, loud and disorienting as any blotter-paper squadron should ever be, and ideal candidates to deliver the next roar of thunder from Down Under.