This third outing takes off with Let It Happen, a fanfare of driving drums and kaleidoscopic synths that is reassuringly Tame Impala of old, but as it gains altitude Currents soars to a new level of sophistication.
It’s unabashedly pop-soul but still plenty psychedelic, thanks to band visionary Kevin Parker’s genius studio experimentation.
Nearly every proper song on Currents is a revelatory statement of Parker’s range and increasing expertise as a producer, arranger, songwriter, and vocalist while maintaining the essence of Tame Impala: Parker is just as irreverent working in soul and R&B as he is with psych-rock.
Currents is all about the wide lens. It’s not the landscape worth falling in love with, but the way Parker gives us a tour. Let it happen, and it will carry you off somewhere much further away than you realized was worth visiting.
The result is the purest — and most complex — distillation of everything that makes the band such a nearly physical pleasure to listen to, whether it’s the sprawling riffs found on their 2010 debut, Innerspeaker, or this album’s taffy-lurid swirls.
It stands clear and apart from the past of Tame Impala, choosing to take a knife and separate in favour of moving forward. Moving is living and Currents gets that.
Currents makes a convincing case for facing the unknown. An album that's virtually crawling with strong, infectious melodies, it's likely to draw brand new prey to Tame Impala's territory.
No matter your proclivities for this new style, it’s hard to deny that Currents sounds fantastic. Parker isn’t using any new instruments here, he’s reappropriating instruments he has been using all along. Only this time, everything is curated cleanly.
Currents won’t quite get to join the club of all-time great third albums, but it’s still an impressive effort. Once again, Kevin Parker has made an album that has little in common with its predecessor, yet sounds surprisingly sure-footed.
While some fans may be disappointed that Tame Impala phased out the more straight-up rock aspect of their sound, they've maintained their dizzying psychedelia on Currents.
It might not hit with the sit-up-and-listen immediacy of previous albums, but make no mistake, ‘Currents’ is just as accomplished.
The fuzz-guitar fans may find themselves a bit underserved here. Best to suck it up and embrace those drum sounds, which are as precise and exquisite as ever.
Although Currents is, in many ways, a showcase of difference, Parker also toys with repetition as a unifying theme, sonically and lyrically.
Rockist doubts aside, Tame Impala is very much present on Currents. Their acidic melodies may now be adorned with sparkling keyboards and heady dance drums—flavors fully outside the rock wheelhouse—but Parker’s aim is to unite the two sensibilities, not to remove the band from the rock formula altogether.
The previously aggressive swirls and surges have abated, with Parker now filling the space with hazy, Gallic grooves that bear a distinct air of Air.
The guitar rides in the back, the keyboards up front. The beats have a synthesized snap even when they're live drums, and even the dreamiest tracks pack a pop bounce.
The shift in sonic palette – the displacement of sun-bleached, illusory fuzz for a cosmos of super-clean synthetic strings – reflects the real life changes he documents with simple lyricism. The album acts as an immaculately crafted apology for this change.
It’s reductive and doesn’t help really anyone by saying the hooks just aren’t there on the level they used to be, but it’s telling that I searched the rest of Currents in vain for anything as immediate as the crashing waterfall of multitracked vocals on the chorus to “The Moment.”
While Currents would have made a decent Kevin Parker solo album, people coming to the album and expecting to hear the Tame Impala they are used to will most likely end up quite disappointed.
Nonetheless, a genre detour is highly appropriate for a heartbreak album that has calculus at its heart and its commentary.
|# 1 -||Blare|
|# 2 -||Clash|
|# 20 -||Complex|
|# 5 -||Consequence of Sound|
|# 9 -||Crack Magazine|
|# 5 -||Diffuser|
|# 85 -||Drowned in Sound|
|# 18 -||Entertainment Weekly|
|# 39 -||FACT Magazine|
|# 3 -||FasterLouder|
|# 2 -||FLOOD|
|# 40 -||Gigwise|
|# 4 -||MOJO|
|# 23 -||musicOMH|
|# 5 -||NME|
|# 9 -||No Ripcord|
|# 32 -||Noisey|
|# 1 -||NOW Magazine|
|# 8 -||Paste|
|# 32 -||Piccadilly Records|
|# 5 -||Pigeons & Planes|
|# 5 -||Pitchfork|
|# 22 -||PopMatters|
|# 6 -||Pretty Much Amazing|
|# 1 -||Q Magazine|
|# 13 -||Rolling Stone|
|# 13 -||Rough Trade|
|# 4 -||SPIN|
|# 34 -||Sputnikmusic|
|# 15 -||Stereogum|
|# 15 -||The Guardian|
|# 29 -||The Skinny|
|# 25 -||The Vinyl Factory|
|# 14 -||Time Out New York|
|# 18 -||Treble|
|# 6 -||Uncut|
|# 2 -||Under the Radar|
|# 1 -||Variance|
|# 4 -||Vulture|
|# 8 -||Exclaim (Pop & Rock)|