To say that Tame Impala elevated indie rock once more into the mainstream dialogue would be an understatement—this is, after all, the rare contemporary rock band to have actually headlined Coachella in recent years. Taking cues from decidedly non-indie influences like Travis Scott, The Slow Rush continues as an extension of that same dialogue, delightfully ambient and bordering on almost being plain, but always fixated on a changing soundscape that separates them from contemporaries with ease due to Kevin Parker’s now concerted stylistic aplomb.
“One More Year” is an opener that would feel equally at home on a more explicitly dance-oriented set of music, with funky muted tones gently flowing down a parallax of humming synths and bleating keyboards. There’s less of a proper conclusion here, and more of an ambitious club-like loop. It’s part of the design of so much of Tame Impala’s catalogue that feels infinitely digestible and repeatable, creating memorable endings that often feel continuous.
So where does that Travis Scott influence come in? It’s peppered throughout as Parker strays farther from the fuzzed-out sound of the group’s first couple of albums, but can be heard most obviously “Instant Destiny” with its staggered percussive track and deep trap evocations, jazz syncopation and blaring horn accents. Kevin Parker’s unique ear for arrangement is ever-present throughout, especially on the vocal mix, which feels at home in the recess of the track’s groove. Soft and delicate ambient openings flood into almost garish arpeggiated keyboard passages.
“Posthumous Forgiveness,” a key single, is a fuzzy herald that opens with a huge, languished backbeat. Parker’s vocals cut a psychedelic outline, yet never once does the track bear any weirdness, its pop affectations and bluesy progression at times leading it to an almost sinister revelry. This is all before addressing the second half of the track, which stitches another track onto it, a continuation of the first half with altered tempo and subdued vocalizations. This is a highlight in every way, and peerless in the scope of the album.
Parker’s vocals have developed considerably, pushing past some of the boundaries that were established on Currents. “Tomorrow’s Dust,” for instance, finds Parker with a pitched falsetto, rich with harmonies that languish in the bed of the soundscape. There’s the inclusion of even subtler guitar work that tends to bleed through in angular moments, fuzzy of course, but it’s still there on further examination. Like a good majority of their work, it’s as nuanced as you can imagine, yet as plain as you could hear.
There’s also a smattering of more experimental tracks here, yet all remain tonally consistent and slavish in their stylistic devotion. “Lost in Yesterday” displays masterful use of pulsing rhythms, conjoined with fervent and ethereal verses that collapse into an earworm chorus. The funk-laden “Is it True” sounds deeply evocative of His Royal Badness, a truly high bit of praise. While “It Might be Time” has an absolutely explosive chorus and exhilarating percussive arrangement with varying pitches that sound like early ’90s house in the best way possible.
Rarely does any track overstay its length, yet rarely does any track fall below four minutes. Still, with carefully crafted, dreamy soundscapes, it’s easy to fall into the sonic snare of Tame Impala. The Slow Rush‘s greatest strength is its ambient, lo-fi, almost bedroom pop minimalism, employing a suite of effects, tools and motifs that we have all heard before—the difference being that, this time, Tame Impala sees them to their full potential. This is a masterful follow up to Currents and shows that Parker’s ambitions are beyond well honed, delivering another powerful psych-pop incantation.
Buy this album at Turntable Lab