Whether or not Tame Impala’s already-booked tours with experimental brethren MGMT and Yeasayer will turn out well remains to be seen, but at the very least, we know the drugs will be good. After all, you can’t help but see the smoke in their superb full length, Innerspeaker, which positions the young Aussies to get that Cut Copy crossover Modular money. A decade ago, when dance-punk and garage-rock abounded, their style probably would’ve gotten them booed off stage or at least made them the brunt of Wolfmother mockery, But whereas Dungen and The Secret Machines had the field to themselves for most of the last few years, Tame Impala’s rise dovetails with other bands who have developed an affection for classic rock. While future tour-mates MGMT skew towards a vintage psysch-pop sound, Tame Impala’s bong-ripping groove finds a home in the proggish space and dreamy vocals that characterized the late 60s and early 70s.
Examine the first 30 seconds of “It Isn’t Meant To Be,” where Tame Impala reveal their Beatles and Cream fixation. The raucous, fuzzed-out basslines on “Alter Ego” and “Lucidity” recall early Led Zeppelin and the short organ solo on “It Is Not Meant To Be” sounds like something a stoned Ray Manzarek might’ve thought up 40 years ago where asking Jim to make soundtracks for imaginary Antonioni films. Whereas many classic rock influences in modern music sound pandering, Tame Impala has listened to enough old records to know that songwriting is as important as style. And while they certainly aren’t revinventing the wheel, they seem to be exploring some of the same places as Zeppelin and the Doors when it comes to song structure
You can tell these guys don’t have too many modern influences, but they’ve obviously jammed out to their fair share of White Stripes and Dungen. And having at least an electro tinge seems to be a prerequisite for getting signed to Modular, so there’s a pretty heavy dance influence on the single “Solitude Is Bliss” and the closer “I Don’t Really Mind.” Impressively keeping course for the entire album, each song manages to sound different than the last, while maintaining a distinct style that no one will likely duplicate any time soon. The blissful vocals of Kevin Parker sound a little bit like a young Paul Mccartney, but it’s easy to get over once you start paying attention to the lyrics. On the dynamic “Alter Ego”, Parker sings “The only one whose really judging you is yourself, nobody else.” Obviously, different issues for a different generation. –Aaron Frank