Lonerism is aptly named. Tame Impala’s second album places the listener at the edge of the void, with riffs the size of galaxies spiralling ‘round the heavens. Driving force Kevin Parker has combed 60s and 70s cosmic prog for every last spaceage bleep, gurgle and wail, and from these retro futurist modules, concocted a spiralling epic. Underpinning the tumbling arpeggios sit the bands chugging rhythm and bass, mining the breakbeats of psychedelic soul and making Lonerism, for all its heady swirls, a surprisingly dance floor friendly record.
Opening salvo Be Above It and Enders Toi offer a misleadingly avant garde intro to the album- on the former a stream train rhythm pounds over Parker’s languid vocals and falling synths, whilst the later sees the infinity synths tuned to forever, rising and dropping in huge curves of operatic prog rock. By the time Apocalypse Dreams rolls in, all poppy piano riffs and Beatles-esque key changes, any casual listeners have long since been jettisoned. Lonerism is very much an album in the classic sense- it’s a journey that rewards when listened to in one sitting. There are plenty more poppy moments to come– Feel Like We Only Go Backwards foregrounds a seriously funky walking bass line in an reverb drenched heart break classic, whilst Elephant has a wicked glam stomp, dirtier than a used copy of Gary Glitter’s greatest hits.
This being 2012, Parker’s nod to the present is in the voguish, reverb heavy, degraded production. As with the Kindness album’s Vaseline smeared disco, this is cosmic prog viewed through a nostalgic haze; blurry and loose. There will always be debate over whether this is an intriguing development in sound or simply the aural equivalent of pushing the settings on the Hipstermatic app til the picture turns to crap, either way, knowing dilapidation is all the rage and Tame Impala have fully signed up. The exception is on album closer Sun’s Coming Up a delicate piano ballad played straight, that spills midway into a wah guitar dream, beautiful and timeless.
If you’re happy with the crumbling production, you’ll find Lonerism showcases a band coming of age, their wide open spaces, intergalactic ambitions and bong fried pop sounding as vital as anything we’ve heard this year. 8/10