(Photo Credit to The Pabst Theater Group)
Tame Impala are teetering on the edge of ubiquity, an epiphany that had eluded me until their live performance last Thursday at The Riverside. I came wanting the whole catalog, but left wanting to hear more of what was to come. Heavily favoring material from 2012's Lonerism and a few songs from their proper 2010 debut, InnerSpeaker, it was the rendition of three cuts from the forthcoming Currents that illuminated the potential Kevin Parker and Tame Impala have to become a generational landmark. The energy, showmanship and execution was exceptional throughout, but only on “Eventually”, “Let It Happen” and “ 'Cause I'm A Man” did Tame Impala's full spectrum of abilities come into focus.
Compositionally Parker has made bounding leaps, with each record becoming less isolating than it's predecessor and while he has always smartly navigated his proclivity to oscillate between motifs, only now does he seem entirely equipped to push through to the substratum. Rather than continuing to rely on a structure that emphasizes binding the false dichotomy of texturally busy instrumentation and Parker's ethereal echoes, the allusions to soul, 80's synth rock and pop music that have always writhed behind the lysergic veil, are now aged, pronounced and refined into something much more pure. Having embraced his voice and the idea that he no longer needs to be within the mix, but in front of it, Parker's commentaries and inner-musing are starting to resonate outward to greater effect.
Without a doubt Parker has a lot to say, but unil now he hadn't the necessary tools to let it echo. Largely in part to the meticulous way in which Parker has crafted his vehicle this time around, the first sounds off of Currents prove that Tame Impala are going to be much more than something to get high and dance to. Thursday provided key insight into this evolution, despite the band's reluctance to dive head first into their new material. While Tame Impala likely feel the need to play the songs that initially drew their audience in, the tangible demarcation between Currents and everything before it is far too bold a line to ignore. Ultimately the earnest and self-aware confrontation of gender generalizations and the uncomfortable truths that accompany the realization that you've been embodying that very stereotype yourself, on “ 'Cause I'm A Man”, are far too important sentiments to sandwich between the opaque commentaries of the past.
Usually I'd evoke Hemingway: “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” but with all due respect, I'm much more intrigued by where Parker thinks it ends, which is something he is only now starting to say loud enough for us to hear.
Thank you to the Pabst Theater Group for their hospitality and the above photo