Tame Impala

Modular Recordings, 2012


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


There's no shame in admitting that sometimes, the only reason we bother to listen to a record is something trivial. I'd love to say that everything in the Clutterbuck archives speaks to me on a meaningful level, and was the result of months of careful research and listening, but that would be a load of hooey.

We will get to the album in a minute, but the reason I sit here writing about Lonerism is quite simple; Kevin Parker (resident genius behind Tame Impala) sounds exactly like John Lennon. No, not similar to Lennon, not Lennon-esque, but a dead ringer for the former Beatle. Upon listening to a brief clip of one random song from the album, my curiosity was piqued immediately; the resemblance is just uncanny. And thus, here we are, 12 tracks later...

In a fairly recent interview, Parker gave the standard answer when a Artist A is asked about how much they sound like Artist B: "Honored by the comparison, but I really wasn't trying to..." I am paraphrasing here, but on a certain level I would understand a certain need for Artist A to distance themselves, stand on their own merits, etc. That's all well and good, but there is a reality to the fact that sounding like someone else can help establish an audience. We know there are quite a lot of people who enjoy John Lennon's music; even the smallest connection sure as hell isn't going to hurt you.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Funny thing is, as an album, Lonerism has much more in common with early McCartney than it does with Lennon. Parker wrote every track, and played most of the instrumentation on each himself. In that sense, I was getting a distinctive McCartney/McCartney II vibe whilst making my way through Lonerism. It's a pure pop album with a decidedly retro, homespun charm.

Parker has name-checked Todd Rundgren as one the primary influences behind this album, and that definitely comes out through the music. Parker doesn't venture far from the pop genre, but his approach is of the "Let's throw everything against a wall and see what sticks" variety. Listen to "Keep On Lying" or "Apocalypse Dreams" and tell me they couldn’t fit seamlessly into a record such as Something/Anything.

Normally, I would not categorize a pop record as a "slow burn," but I did not feel as immediate a connection with Lonerism as I would have expected. In fact, it took weeks before I realized that I was repeating the intro to "Be Above It" on an hourly basis, annoying everyone around me. The squeals of a synthesizer pop up in my head (“Music To Walk Home By"), as do the fuzzed out guitar riffs of "Elephant."

But herein lies the rub; I love particular moments much more than the album as a whole. Parker knocks it out of the park on a handful of tracks: "Elephant," "Be Above It," and "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" to be specific. The weird, space-rock vibe comes together with Parker's stellar songwriting and he has you hook line and sinker. It's unfortunate that those moments don't sustain themselves throughout the album. There's no question that Parker is very talented, and I wouldn't expect him to regress for his next project. There are a few gems on Lonerism and for those alone it's worth a listen.

Rating: B

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© 2012 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Modular Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.