Reviews

Tame Impala | Currents

By Carlos Lima-Lopez

Kevin Parker, the songwriting mastermind behind Tame Impala, has this song on the album called “Nangs” that seems to give me trouble over its meaning. It takes several ingredients from hip-hop and it bangs nicely. It also has this dizzy emotion with its synths and bassline as Kevin sings, “But is there something more than that?” That’s all he sings, but it sounds like he’s wondering if there’s more after a breakup, or maybe there’s something to salvage the relationship with. I’m still not sure, but in regards to my own situation, I know it reminds me of questions that I ask myself.

It’s been three years since Tame Impala released the incredible Lonerism, an album I completely missed the boat on. I remember a few of my friends were talking about it and clearly the band was propelling to superstar status. It was actually someone who was very close to me that got me into the band on a ride home some years ago. Once I really got into the band, I really started to kick myself; why didn’t I get into this band sooner?!

So now here we are, with Currents, the new and musically different album by Tame Impala. Instead of the punchy rock tunes Kevin is known for putting out, here he dabbles with pop and hip-hop. Instead of rock and rolling guitars, there’s more of a focus on keyboards, solid basslines and more importantly, the emotion behind his message.

Tame Impala Currents

What Kevin Parker also has delivered, and it’s slightly killing me right now to mention it as such, is the album that accurately describes life after a failed love. It’s the anthem that speaks to me about how we change, or to put it in a proper perspective, about how I once went through a change, through the trials of a broken heart. It’s the change that I never would imagine myself going through. Kevin has delivered Blur’s 13 for 2015.

I suffered through my heartbreak these past 8 months, and it was the most horrible feeling I ever felt. I remembered how I couldn’t focus on anything but what I was going through, with questions unanswered. I tell you, that was not a pretty sight. I felt very reclusive and mistrusting, and I would snap at anyone that I felt was pissing me off. I had a hard time leaving my house to do things I used to like doing.

Currents was something of a soundtrack for that time. I related to the idea of becoming this person you would never be. Quite a few times, I really wanted to tell Kevin that I fucking hate him for making this album, although honestly, I really didn’t mean it. I remember how listening to “Yes, I’m Changing” impacted me emotionally, and feeling that emotion where you wished you never met that person while listening to “Eventually.” I had that song on repeat over the summer.

I’m glad to say I’m feeling much better now, after realizing all of this is just lovesickness. All the anger quaffed over me that day when I made the realization of my situation; I’m even surprised how much I still emotionally feel for this person. With a brighter mind and better mental state, I can honestly say I really like this album, and I thank Kevin for being open and vulnerable with his audience.

Currents has Kevin going through such a drastic change in his life post breakup. “Yes, I’m Changing” acknowledges the major changes in him, where he knows he “can’t stop it now, and even if I could, I wouldn’t know how.” He is aware there is “no future left for you and me,” and wants to tell her that there is something better for her in the future. It’s a sad realization that the relationship is indeed over.

Yet, poor Kevin finds himself regret and sadness in “Eventually,” where he even states he wishes that, “I could turn you back into a stranger.” This hits hard, because I said that at one point to myself. However, Kevin assures himself and his former flame that things will eventually get better for them.

Oddly enough, even when Kevin Parker tries to convince himself that he’s fine, he finds that he can’t move on. He finds his former love with “Trevor” in “The Less I Know, I Better,” a groovy number on the album. It’s clear that seeing her with someone else bothers him and tells her, “just don’t make me wait forever” if she ever wants to get back with him. “Past Life” is clear evidence that a random flash of his former lover has revved old emotions back to life. It’s clear that he wants to reach out to her, but doesn’t “want to dig up old bones,” fearing things will not turn out the way he wants to. However, he takes a chance and it ends with her picking up his call.

In “Disciples” and “Love/Paranoia,” the former is a happier track and the latter is more of a longing song, has Kevin wanting to go back to the times like they used to and yearning for those times when things were good. “Love/Paranoia” especially has Kevin apologizing for the failure of the relationship. Speaking of apologies, Kevin admits his own shortcomings on “Cause I’m A Man” because well, he’s a man. It’s the way he sings “Cause I’m A Man, Woman” and lists every reason why it’s his fault is such a good reason why Kevin is such a good singer.

It ultimately ends with “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” where Kevin is wrestling with himself about the future. On one hand, he feels ready and open where he can fall in love again. On the other, the skeptic in him remembers the pain of the past. That hinders him from wanting to feel something again.

Tame Impala succeeds in emotionally conveying the tribulations of heartbreak and eventually trying to move on. Much of it filled with confusion, sadness, regret, and longing. I can definitely feel how sad “Yes, I’m Changing” is with its sad wave of keyboards and steady bassline. Kevin Parker, at one point, says not to feel blue but the song encompasses that emotion. “Eventually” feels like lovesickness has taken over, where you feel immense sadness. “The Less I Know, The Better” has this anxious vibe to it. Does anyone really want to know what their ex-lover is doing at that time?

“Cause I’m A Man” has this nice Michael Jackson influence filled with sorrow and apologies. At least Kevin Parker is man enough to confront his faults and shortcomings. He does so earnestly, and the song sounds like crystals. “New Person, Same Old Person” has a very ominous feeling about where Kevin will go as a person in the future. It has this really dark, kickin’ bassline, and soon the song shifts into a slightly cheery mood.

One of the odd tracks, and also one of my favorites, is “Let It Happen.” With its Daft Punk inspired funk, Kevin wails about advantage of the moment, and letting inspiration happen to you. It gets really good as the song builds towards the end.

Tame Impala, at this point, are already monsters on the music scene, having played venues like Terminal 5 and Radio City Music Hall. With three albums, Tame Impala have made a name for themselves. Their influence can also be heard in the likes of Tyler The Creator; that dude is a pretty unabashed fan of the group. I don’t think I’ve encountered a group where they are constantly a conversation piece amongst friends.

I applaud Kevin Parker for being so revealing in Currents. Talking about your heart break is no easy task for anyone, especially for me. These days, I feel more hopeful and happy. I feel hopeful, that one day soon, we will speak again. I’m not naïve about it; you can ask my therapist about it for validation.

I have mentioned I had questions I asked myself during my self-imposed exile. One of them was “Is it really over?” No matter how much I told myself I wanted to move on, and that it was over, I had a hard time moving on. Why couldn’t I? No matter what I felt; anger, love or sadness, all of them still had me tied to this person. I still had an attachment, and I honestly came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to lose it. I was very afraid to lose it, only to see that I hadn’t. I felt that this can be resolved one day, but I had to work on healing and appreciating myself.

Now that I’m feeling better, and working myself, I don’t sulk at all. These days, I mostly suffer from this person’s absence in my life. Which leads to ask myself this question but in a much more positive light “is it ever really over?”

 

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