1 / 5 Stars
Hot take: Tame Impala’s new album “The Slow Rush” sucks ass.
After a five-year hiatus, mastermind of Tame Impala Kevin Parker dropped the Valentine’s Day release “The Slow Rush” this year. The album has a track list of 12 songs with a runtime of 57 minutes. “The Slow Rush” is Parker’s latest attempt to make his unique, neo-psychedelic sound more accessible to a wider audience. He does this by seemingly dissecting his previous music with a chainsaw, and Frankensteining the mutilated elements that once made it beautiful into an album that barely deserves the name Tame Impala.
Compared to Parker’s previous works, “The Slow Rush” is a let-down of ungodly proportions. The lyrics are bland, tasteless, and struggle to be memorable. Parker’s melodies consist of only a few notes and are incessantly repetitive with very little change, if any, between each verse. On top of this, his vocal tracks are over-processed, with so many effects that the tracks can barely be recognized as Parker’s voice. The use of vocal effects is unsubtle, unimaginative, and frankly, quite annoying.
“The Slow Rush” fails to meet the standards set by Parker’s earlier albums, such as “Innerspeaker” and “Lonerism.” Parker attempts to explore the sounds of Disco and New Wave in a way that’s already been done countless times before. To accomplish this, Parker makes very heavy use of analog synthesizers and disco-style drum beats. He breaks away from his previous works by replacing his distinctive guitar with lots of synthesizers, which results in a heavy electronic noise that is completely different from the unique sound he cultivated in his Freshman and Sophomore albums. Due to Parker’s massive employment of synthesizers, every track sounds more like a cacophony of dial-up tones than electronic music.
“The Slow Rush” fails to establish a linear flow and consistent theme early on. This lack of flow is exemplified when songs jump from slow and somber to fast and fun with a dizzying pace. After four listens, I could not decipher any deeper meaning in “The Slow Rush.” This new album feels much more like a haphazard collection of reject B-Side singles, than an actual cohesive work of art.
All of this being said, “The Slow Rush” isn’t completely without redemption. I often found my head bobbing along to Parker’s expertly-written drum tracks and enjoyed his use of phase and stereo sweeps. The synthesizer tones were absolutely spot on to the sounds of the 70s and 80s. I particularly liked his use of a mellotron, an instrument often neglected in contemporary music, towards the end of the album.
If this wasn’t an album released under the name Tame Impala, then I would be more lenient in my rating. A five-year hiatus should have been enough time to produce Parker’s magnum-opus: a beautiful work of art that compiles the sounds of his discography with the wisdom he’s gained over his decade as a recording artist. However, Parker made us wait for this magnum-opus, and instead handed us a pile of bubblegum pop gutter trash. For a Tame Impala album, “The Slow Rush” doesn’t make the cut. In fact, it misses the cut by a Parsec.
“The Slow Rush” is to Tame Impala as Dutch Bros is to coffee: The espresso is burnt beyond all recognition, the milk is improperly steamed and lukewarm, and the drink is crammed with so much sugary syrup that it actually burns your throat as it slides down. This being said, if you enjoy Dutch Bros coffee, you may get something out of this deeply disappointing sell-out to pop music.