This is the album. This is the album that started my new life, the album that created the new me.
There was a point in time where I just wasn’t happy. I had a catalogue of mistakes to my name, and started walking down a path absent of life. Day to day, my head would spin, yet remain still. There was no creativity, no aspiration and certainly no enthusiasm. I had dug an unclimbable pit and thrown myself to the bottom of it. None of my mistakes had meant to be harmful in any shape or form, yet I felt guilty. I didn’t know any better at the time of each error, but that didn’t matter. Redemption seemed so out of reach that I doubted it’s existence.
This album spurred drastic changes in my psychology and philosophy of life. I suddenly began learning so much in an incredibly short amount of time, and I loved it. I still love it. Acquiring knowledge about the world is something of utmost importance to me. I find myself striving to understand and interact way more frequently than prior to Lonerism. These newly found traits are a significant part of my personality, they are something I identify as now.
This is my first time ever articulating these emotions, and I am choosing to share them with the world. As I write this, I keep pondering through years of mental data trying to categorise and draw significance from every emotion, every memory, every interaction. This process is something I owe to Kevin Parker (aka Tame Impala). He has been the creator of my contemplation, and I am ever so grateful.
From the first listen, this work musically resonated with me unlike anything else before. It didn’t just send me to a different dimension, it fucking catapulted me. Each time this masterpiece flows through my earpieces I am under it’s control. In addition to being psychologically pummeled by these tracks, they command my physical movements too. For me, the music just has the perfect combination of spaciness, groove, melancholy, yet also hope. It draws me in, time and time again; something only a true work of art can do.
Listen as you read:
Recommended: Endors Toi, Apocalypse Dreams, Mind Mischief, Why Won’t They Talk to Me and Elephant….the whole album to be honest though, it’s incredible.
The introductory track to this album is Be Above It. Opening with the repetitive whisper of “Gotta be above it”, the song evolves quickly, sparked by the intense looped drums. I feel like it is a very bold selection for the opener. From a new listeners standpoint, initially this song could paint a false image of the album. But slowly, some beautiful sounds of Kevin’s layered synthesizer begin to become incorporated into the drum-heavy track. As a listener, I begin to anticipate some sort of monumental musical epiphany. The intensity builds as Kevin continuously exclaims “And I can’t let them all just bring me down”, each time more passionately than the last. Ultimately, this teased oracle never arrives… or so I thought. I recently realised that the rest of the album is the monumental epiphany, and this is the reason for Kevin’s seemingly obscure track placement.
Next, a personal favorite of mine; Endors Toi. Meaning “go to sleep” in French, this song floods me with euphoria upon listening. When I was blessed enough to see Tame Impala live, as soon as I heard the distinctive melody and strumming I braced myself for one of the most special moments of my life to date. My face erupted into a beaming ear-to-ear smile, as I screamed at my girlfriend, Jessie, to get ready. The bassist began to slowly pluck, Julien began to bring in the drums and I completely lost my mind. It is a mindbendingly intense song, which makes the three minutes go by in a flash. I would love to hear an extended version of the track, as I feel like the song could definitely benefit with two or three additional minutes. For me, this song always opens up my mind, allowing me to think in a more abstract and creative manner. It prepares me mentally for the tracks that follow.
Now for the rollercoaster that is Apocalypse Dreams. This seems to be a lot of Tame enthusiasts’ favorite song, and has been compared to Mahler’s second symphony by fans. The song actually starts out quite poppy, until the 30 second mark, where the listener gets a preview of what is to come. The drumming completely changes, and a smooth rolling bassline protrudes until the poppy chorus recommences and Kevin sings about his desire and journey to find something new. What comes next is simply sensational. Everything goes quiet as Kevin asks “Am I getting closer? Will I ever get there? Does it even matter?”. Kevin overthinks, asking a range of contradictory rhetorical questions . A ‘glorious release of tension’ ensues and all his desires and ideas of something new drift away into the meaninglessness of life. Check out live performances of this song, the outro in particular is simply sensational.
“Nothing ever changes,
No matter how long you do your hair”
Overthinking. Something that I imagine we are all guilty of at times. I doubt even the most tranquil, neutral being hasn’t built up the most complex mental maze sparked by certain events in their life. In fact, it’s so common that it is arguably human nature. It’s funny, often the most natural and purest emotions are the hardest to vocalize and share. Whether this hesitancy is due to the difficulty of expression or that the various social stigmas around these ‘vulnerabilities’ deter us, I do not know. I really admire Kevin’s honesty, it is reassuring that even the most chilled, cool individuals have moments of self doubt. As a sufferer, probably stemming from anguish in early teenage years, this has made me exponentially more comfortable with the inevitable mental practice.
The body of this album is what sets it apart, it’s in a class of its own. Not for one second does the LP hint at tapering off in terms of quality. Mind Mischief is a great example of the high standard among this group. The atmosphere that Kevin creates in this track, especially in the latter half, is beautiful. This is what I imagine drifting through space on a ‘lovey-buzz’ sounds like (if there was sound, of course). Why Won’t They Talk to Me is a very relatable track for those who have found themselves in situations of social solitude. It captures the emotions of looking at groups of people from the outside wonderfully, firstly somewhat pining about why one isn’t included, then later finally realising (or telling yourself) that the people aren’t as interesting or cool as you initially thought. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards is also an element of this great grouping. Pretty much derived from only four chords, it’s definitely one of the more pop-orientated songs on the disc, and one of the most popular. The enchantingly catchy vocals for me demonstrate the range of the Perth man’s musical capabilities.
Elephant is a cult favorite among the neo-pysch rock community. It’s completely different to anything else on the LP, which is just another reason to love it. I always viewed this song similar to the iconic Money from The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd for this reason. The jazzy, somewhat sleazy guitar riff is even packing the same vibe as Money. This sleazy riff is fittingly accompanied by Kevin aggressively describing another man that people seem to look up to. Once again we see Kevin observing social situations from a distance and forming complex thoughts and emotions, an act I can really relate to from certain points in my life. Upon contemplation, one knows the borderline envious feelings towards others are sometimes unjust, but are overwhelming and can’t be stopped.
“Bet he feels like an elephant
Shaking his big grey trunk for the hell of it…“.
Envy. When one views life as an ‘outsider’, as I have done in the past, it is very easy to sensationalise peers. I began to become very aware of the social status of the people around me, including myself. Although I am not proud of it, I can admit to sometimes developing ill feeling towards those at the ‘top of the social tier’. This mentality is perfectly captured in Elephant. Upon reflection, I feel that this was possibly a coping mechanism to deal with my opinion of myself. It is hard to admit, but the insecurities that I possess sometimes dictate my actions (way more in the past than present). As of the last few years, I continuously work on improving the view that I hold of myself. It has taken time, but I am slowly getting there. The insecurities have become drastically reduced, and in contrast my quality of life has increased. I am happier.
We all find ourselves trying to understand things by projecting our experiences onto them. Perhaps this is a measure of a true work of art. Kevin has created such an evocative piece of music that it enables us to pan the landscapes of our consciousness, revisiting memories and feelings with a new-found optimism and understanding.