Currents by Tame Impala

Every once in a while I found an album I can listen to in order and on repeat. Sometimes it seems in the landscape of digitisation, we have somewhat lost the art of appreciating the album as unit of music, as opposed to a playlist.

I have very fond memories of one particular morning (after a night of revelry) that was spent listening to Lonerism on a record player, and drinking cab sav in a friend’s garden.

For me Tame Impala’s music conjures up this slightly delirious, carefree, youthfully nostalgic mood where conversations are deep, and the issues between people seem to matter little.

I remember there being complete silence when we listened to Feels like we only go backwards, tapping my finger on the knee of my then lover who lay dozing on my lap.

I remember exchanging a look of understanding with his friend whom I never got the impression was my biggest fan, but in that moment we shared one of those rare illuminating moments of connection that can only be facilitated by music which possesses a rare magical quality.

Tame Impala, or Kevin Parker, remain one of those rare modern artists who creates albums  a consistent entity as opposed to collections of hit songs with added B-sides.

There is a fluidity and commonality across the 13 tracks of Currents, which is further evidence that Tame Impala has the jingle, the soul and the meaningfulness which makes their success no surprise.

The track the moment, conjures up nostalgic for a bygone era of rock and roll, and has a beat that makes the listener involuntarily click their fingers.

The standout track (which has got considerable Triple J airplay) would have to be, the less I know the better. 

The lyrics of this song are incredibly powerful, if a little ambiguous.

They deal with the experience of watching the person you believe you are meant to be with be with someone else.

The jealously and powerlessness that such a situation makes a person feel is transfused in the track’s narrative.

I interpret the song as  being about two people who know they want to be together one day, but currently are distracted by others.

They want to be together, because what they have is real, but it’s just bad timing for them. The emotive lyrics which gives depth to what otherwise may be considered a happy-go-lucky pop song due to it’s catchiness.

Past Life takes the listener on an out-of body journey through time and space, I have visuals of soaring through the cosmos, and looking down on my own life from high above.

One of the interesting sounds in this track is the phone ringing and sound bite of a female voice saying ‘hello’, and then the song suddenly cuts out, as if hearing that voice shattered the idea that what went down in that relationship happened in a past life and does not have an impact.

It captures the moment where you have a chance encounter with an ex and realise that maybe you hadn’t moved on as much as you thought you had, maybe you’d just switched off from it, but it was still running somewhere in the background.

I guess the track’s title suggests that you can be over someone and still be haunted by what might have been – like something that happened in a past life, it might not be visible in your every day routine, but it still has an impact on you deep down.

Past Life is a natural progression from the preceding track’s the less I know the better, embodiment of the ‘one day we’ll be together’ mentality and the desire to make a past lover jealous with someone new.

There is no doubt that the album is bittersweet and more than slightly melancholy, but I  still think it has an optimism.

This is especially expressed Yes I’m Changing, which captures a sense of vulnerability and an acceptance of the fact that things must always change and this is a fact of life, even if we try and hide away.

Yes, I’m Changing is not cynical or depressing, rather it has a decided streak of optimism and may be viewed as a call to the listener to embrace change in whatever form that may be.

In his pitchfork review, Ian Cohen identifies the album as a “breakup record“. Cohen he suggests that Currents might be a companion piece to Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, he talks about the tendency people have to “seek comfort and stability rather than dealing with the dissonance between two entities that are inevitable subject to changing at different frequencies”.

I think that the songs on this album, like Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, do explore both this innate desire for comfort and stability or familiarity and also dealing with that dissonance, with changes in states of affairs and relationships between people.

But growth comes from change, as whether it is progressing with your expression as an artist through making an album which reflects your personal style and your current outlook on the world (such as Kevin Parker has done here), or making the decision to deal with the dissonance between what a relationship was and what it has become, instead of going back to an ex because it’s familiar and comfortable.

We can only change and grow if we are not afraid to step away from comfort and stability. Popular music is often discounted as being shallow or lacking in originality or authenticity,

I would suggest that Currents is neither of these things.

It just goes to show that but just because a lot of people relate to an album, or it is catchy does not mean that the music lacks merit.

“yes I’m older, yes I’m moving on// and if you don’t think its a crime you can come along”, Parker invites us to embrace the change (from psychedelic rock to a more pop sound) in Yes I’m changing.

Overall the album is hypnotic, synthy and psychedelic.

To be listened driving home when walking in the forest trying to figure things out, or on a grimy late night disco dance floor or maybe in the garden at 9am while slightly delirious and sipping on cab sav in a youthful daze.

P.s. side note… this dude designed the psychedelic album artwork, groovy stuff.

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