Tame Impala: “The Slow Rush” Review

Photo courtesy of Tame Impalas official website 
Tame Impalas new album The Slow Rush is reviewed from a NMU student perspective.

Photo courtesy of Tame Impala’s official website Tame Impala’s new album “The Slow Rush” is reviewed from a NMU student perspective.

Eli Sparkman

Every Friday I go to Sundre in the basement of the Lydia Olson Library. By Friday, a lot of the week’s food items have acquired an orange sticker that indicates the item is half off. The sticker also indicates that the food is slightly old, but that is of less concern to me. My favorite sandwich to buy is called The Whitman. It is a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant, but with blueberries in it. When I buy it, I think of the poet Walt Whitman. I don’t know why it’s called “The Whitman,” but I like to imagine that eating it will make me a better writer. It also feels good to eat something halfway cheap around here for once.

Often, I go to Sundre and the person behind the cash register is playing Tame Impala on a bluetooth speaker. In fact, very often. In a way, I believe that Tame Impala is the quintessential Northern Michigan University band. Something about the relationship between the outdoors, “Granola Kid” culture, and psychedelia/jam bands. Check out just a few shows around Marquette, and you’ll quickly discover that jam is the sound du jour here.

Kevin Parker, the mastermind behind the Australian indie outfit Tame Impala, seems like the type of jam band kid who looked around at a concert one day, everyone smiling in unison, grooving, heading nodding through the entirety of a 17 minute solo, and said, “What the hell am I doing here?”

And that’s why I love his band. It’s built around this kind of introspection and skepticism. Example: the first two records are called “Innerspeaker” and “Lonerism.” On them, Parker utilizes the atmospherics of the genre of psychedelia as a vehicle for representing the surrealness of being and thinking. This, in contrast, to psychedelia’s more popular function as a gimmicky vehicle for putting an audience through a trip. His songs are tighter and controlled, and the lyrics are more journalistic. Transcendental tones drive transcendental emotions. These records are meditations on himself, and the newest record, “The Slow Rush,” is a meditation on himself through time.

An image: the record feels like a 13-room house. Each track has its own room. And each track sounds like the wallpaper decorating the walls of each room. This new record has so much rhythm and bass, the walls feel ornate and connected and spindly like the background of a Kehinde Wiley painting.

Most of “The Slow Rush” sounds like R&B music. Ripped up love letters and dance floor desires. A life understood through relationships.

But also, in each room, potentially, is a different Kevin Parker brooding.

These are the larger questions. It’s not just past, present and future. It’s thinking about the present in contrast to the future that it once stood for.

And it’s thinking about a future that will soon be the present and then the past. The record itself seems to beg the question: Who will I be a year from now? What will I think about the record? And what will I think about the me that was listening to it?

Me? I can’t help but wonder if I’ll still be eating my Whitmans, or if I’ll be sick of them by then. Hopefully, my writing skills won’t require their creative boost anymore, and it’ll be some other kid checking out to “The Slow Rush.”

And maybe that kid will be thinking about who they were, a year ago, when they read this, this review of “The Slow Rush.”