In 2010, Tame Impala came out of nowhere to make America lose its collective shit, and for good reason. The Aussie band’s debut long-player, Innerspeaker, proved you could in fact make retro rock sound, well, modern as hell, breathing some much-needed life into one of music’s most played-out sub-genres. This was true on Innerspeaker, and it’s even more so on their follow-up, Lonerism.
Emerging with an album even more ambitious than their debut, Tame Impala have opened up their world substantially, spinning the kaleidoscope at full tilt as they strike off on a wild and weird exploration in pop psychedelia. Repeatedly bringing to mind Todd Rundgren’s 1973 prog-pop classic A Wizard, A True Star, Lonerism is pure studio-nerd bliss, as leader Kevin Parker flexes his production muscles to reveal complex rock structures that throw in more twists and turns than a George R.R. Martin series.
There’s definitely a proggier feel to the album, as more synths and studio effects are brought into the mix, but this never comes at the expense at the actual songwriting, which is as infectious and hooky as ever. Tame Impala just approach it all at odder angles, with brainier structures and headier atmospheres. And while it’s Parker’s production that’s the real star, things still get balls-out, particularly when they unleash their inner Sabbath on “Elephant” or hit the interstellar space-rock overdrive for “Endors Toi.”
It all becomes one stellar reminder to rock bands set on recycle and repeat that they, too, can do something truly different.