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Tame Impala - Innerspeaker (2010) review


Tame Impala “Innerspeaker” (Modular, 2010)

Innerspeaker is the award-winning debut album from Tame Impala, the nom de group of Perth multi-instrumentalist, Kevin Parker. It’s a gorgeous collection of sunny day reflective songs, with swashes of swirling guitars, psychedelic effects, and dreamy vocals. Opener “It Is Not Be” is Revolveresque pop at its best, but then Parker breaks out the fuzz distortion pedals for the garagey “Desire Be Desire Go”. It’s like leapfrogging from Olivia Tremor Control to Flaming Lips, but before our brains have time to regain our musical perspective, “Alter Ego” strolls through the room with a dose of sunshiny, West Coast pop with hints of the perky power pop of fellow Aussie solo artist Donny McDonald.
               Parker’s faraway vocals form the heartbreaking plea at the core of the melancholic “Why Don’t You Make Up Your Mind”, but spirits are lifted on the ensuing, Barrett-influenced “Solitude Is Bliss” and the glistening guitar opening to “Jeremy’s Storm” belies the brewing chaos within (complete with swelling wind effects and manic drumming) that eventually explodes into a current of guitar shredding that is equal parts prog, Hawkwind, and post rock guitarscapes, a la Tortoise.
One of Innerspeaker’s many charms is the variety of approaches Parker successfully pulls off, none more jarring than the stalking, bluesy swagger of the near-metallic “The Bold Arrow Of Time”, which sounds like Cream on steroids. It’s a little half baked and almost seems like it hasn’t progressed past demo form (everything stops for a moment while Parker counts his way back into the main riff and then he switches the whole mood with an atmospheric coda that prepares the listener for the ensuing, “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds”. As it’s multi-part title suggests, this suite runs the gamut of emotions and musical styles, from the quietly ascending opening salvo that lifts the listener heavenward to the meandering, Tangerine Dream-inspired, synth-driven central part representing our floating journey around the island to view the tiny “houses and cities” below, and culminating in the Floydian finale, as we tickle the “clouds”.
               Parker’s been making music in one for or another for more than half his 26 years and brings all his influences (from Rage Against the Machine and Cream to The Beatles and Brainticket) to bear on this inspiring debut, which deservedly won Album of The Year honors at the Rolling Stone Australia awards in 2011.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
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