Even though five years separated Tame Impala’s surprise commercial juggernaut Currents and the arrival of the belated follow-up The Slow Rush, it can feel as if Kevin Parker’s gauzy, blissed-out brand of pop-psych-funk never really went away.
One reason is the staying power of Currents marvels like “Let It Happen,” “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” and many others that never left the go-to playlists in nearly every trendy place of business you happened to enter at any time of day or night. Then there was Parker’s stream of beguiling collaborations with pop, hip-hop, and R&B superstars—Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Travis Scott, and Kanye West among them—and Perth pals like Pond, the psych outfit that includes many past and current members of Tame Impala’s live incarnation.
Industrious even when forced to escape from a fire in Malibu while at work on The Slow Rush in late 2018, Parker primed the pump with a series of advance singles, starting with “Patience.” Like the rest of the music that eventually followed, the preview tracks demonstrated Parker’s eagerness to double down on the influences that permeated Currents—especially the keys-forward splendor of ’70s prog-pop inspirations like Supertramp, Wings, and 10cc—while expanding his palette of rhythmic predilections into house, techno, and French Touch. The Hendrixian flair of Tame Impala’s earlier albums is present and accounted for, too.
So here’s a selection that charts the road Parker traveled to The Slow Rush, an album that feels just as likely to become part of the moment (and part of the ether) as its predecessor did.
Photo Credit: Matt Sav