ALBUM REVIEW: Tame Impala - The Slow Rush
In many ways it is unfair that 2020's The Slow Rush should find itself being compared to the decade defining album that preceded it, but Tame Impala's fourth LP release is unavoidably a project that will be measured in comparison to the success of 2015's Currents. The Slow Rush is, as probably expected, not as good an album as Kevin Parker's previous attempt, but that should not discourage anyone from listening to this newest album from the Australian psych-rocker.
Being Parker's fourth LP underneath the pseudonym of 'Tame Impala', The Slow Rush is another leap in sound for the musician. The high-pitched falsetto singing is still here, but embraced by a slight departure from Currents' comfortable synth-psych-rock combination. The Slow Rush is not as big a jump in sound as was found between Parker's other albums, but listeners would be wrong to accuse Tame Impala for staying too close to the proven successes of the last releases success. The Slow Rush is an album that still holds on to the epic scale of Parker's soundscapes. Thick drums, potent synths and powerful bass lines propel opener 'One More Year' through an enjoyable five minute introduction, before the smooth (if a little boring) 'Instant Destiny' reverb-croons its way past arpeggiating synthesisers and intricate bass guitar. Single 'Borderlines' is maybe as close as this album gets to the anthemic highs of Currents' 'Let It Happen', 'The Less I Know The Better' and ''Cause I'm A Man', but after the initial barrage of The Slow Rush's opening three songs, a key issue for Tame Impala's fourth full length release rears its head.
The Slow Rush has a real problem with length and brevity. The six minutes of 4th track 'Posthumous Forgiveness' may be separated into a clear two-part divide, but the middle chunk of this new album really struggles managing its momentum. Tame Impala albums have never been afraid of producing songs true to the legacy of psych rock, with epic multi-part songs such as 'New Person, Same Old Mistakes' an example of songs that push beyond the six-minute mark, but the longer tunes from this newest album often do little to justify their extended length.
Following tune 'Breathe Deeper' is excellent (and closes with a brilliant 'Da Funk' imitation) but does fail to stay fully engaging for how long it stays playing. For an album so lyrically dedicated to pondering the inevitable 'slow rush' of time, it's 57 minute run time seems ironically significant. If this wasn't a Tame Impala album I'd suggest that the length of this record was a purposeful reference to the themes of tracks like 'Tomorrow's Dust' and 'On Track'. Unfortunately however, for all the good that can be found on this album, and it is a good album, the album is significantly weakened by a lethargic pace. This is not a boring release, with the thumping 'Lost In Yesterday' and the *fantastic* 'Is It True' providing much-needed injections of energy into the project, but listening to The Slow Rush often can be an experience that struggles to maintain its grip on your attention span.
Long tracks could, and indeed do work on this album, as seen with the satisfying closer 'One More Hour'. Not only does the tune move around with sparkly instrumentation and impressive dynamic range, but with the longest song on the album coming immediately after the shortest song on the album this mix between brevity and the epic makes both songs feel well-placed. If more tracks on The Slow Rush played with brief splashes of creativity like 'Glimmer', the albums epic seven minute journeys would feel much more cohesive on the LP.
As the project finishes, I cannot help but feel that 2020's The Slow Rush ends having underperformed in relation to Lonerism, Innerspeaker, *and* Currents. It is again not a bad album, and if viewed in a vacuum removed from the phenomenal discography of Kevin Parker's studio material it would certainly prove itself as a competent and well-produced effort, but five years on from Currents however The Slow Rush feels somewhat disappointing after the long wait from 2015. It might be unfair to compare this album to those that came before it, but Tame Impala's most recent LP certainly "Feels Like [It] Only Go Backwards" in terms of quality.
The songs are dramatic and sparse, lyrically honest and introspective, but unfortunately Kevin Parker's self-proclaimed perfectionism has not produced an unmissable project. The album is good, but when compared to the unmissable material that came before it, Tame Impala's newest album is a disappointing one. By Tame Impala standards, this is not a particularly inventive or exciting release, but it does deserve a listen, even if most of these songs might be quickly forgotten, save for a few excellent exceptions.
- 6.8 -
'Borderline', 'Breathe Deeper', 'Is It True'
Ben Wheadon is editor and founder of Slow Motion Panic Masters. He is a Welsh musician and English Literature student at King's College, London and he should be writing a dissertation instead of creating a blog.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in London, England.
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