Tame Impala’s second full length offering continues down the same psychedelic road asits predecessor, but with much more confident strides. More cohesive than Innerspeaker, on Lonerism everything clicks to such an extent that Kevin Parker manages to singlehandedly create the sound of a band coming into its own.
Though they’re much improved second time out, songs haven’t taken precedent over sounds. Rather, the two are still very much functions of each other. The results are so sonically rich that even after multiple listens your ears have no idea what to cling to. Consequently, every time a new melody (and there’s an abundance of them) emerges from the ether, be it from the bass, which bubbles joyously throughout the record, the blare of an organ, or Parker’s Lennon-like voice, it’s always a surprise.
Fortunately, the album is much more than just a conglomeration of blissed-out jams. The tracks, whilst being wonderfully indistinct in the way their parts blend and fade into each other, all have their own definite identities. Opener ‘Be Above It’ turns its title into a motorik mantra and ends up sounding like a slow train chugging its way through Brain Wilson’s unconscious, whilst ‘Mind Mischief’ puts Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross through the blender of Hendrix’s ‘Third Rock from the Sun’ and, if there’s a parallel universe out there in which Marks and Spencer’s stock acid, it’s undoubtedly the soundtrack to their ads.
However, for all its inventiveness, the biggest surprise Lonerism has to offer is its emotional impact. Psychedelic music, by its very nature, tends to be inward looking. Though interesting to observe, this can make it alienating to a wider audience. Parker’s music is different in that, when he looks into the workings of his own imagination, the things he brings back to show his audience aren’t esoteric gems of mystic wisdom, they’re the bread and butter of alternative pop; loneliness and isolation. But then, you’d have to admit, the clue was in the title.