by Allie Wall
October 16, 2012
From the very first track off Tame Imapala’s second full-length release, laced with a looped drum-beat, spacey synth sounds and whimsical vocals, it was clear this album was a masterful compilation. Lonerism, the follow up to the Australian ensemble’s 2010 breakout record, is as psychedelic as it is melancholy and lush. A record reminiscent of 60s/70s rock layered with swirling, fresh, mind-bending tunes is what makes Lonerism a standalone piece of art. Frontman and producer Kevin Parker’s vocals are at times eerily similar to those of John Lennon, adding a level of complexity and listenability to tracks that are often so full of synth-heavy, boundary pushing rhythms you are on the brink of getting swept away with.
The lyrics of “Be Above It” give first glimpse to what could be considered a theme, of sorts, trickled throughout the album. In a chant-like manner, the phrase, “gotta be above it” kicks off the track, laying the groundwork for a song so heavy in synth-sound and drum-loop yet full of melancholy yearning you can’t help but get hooked. If album title Lonerism wasn’t enough of a clue, songs entitled “Apocalypse Dreams”, “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?”, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Can Control” give a sense that this album is a deeper inquisition of loneliness, isolation and constant reflection. “Backwards” is a kind of dawdling pop tune that brings you in right from the get-go with soulful, echoed vocals, despondent lyrics and a melodic vibe that is enrapturing. “Elephant” is probably the most rock-like track on the album, full of big guitar licks, drums and explorative synth-sounds that give backing to lyrics that convey an air of confidence and indifference that is not often found on Lonerism.
It’s easy to get lost in the haunting sound of the guitar mixed with space-age rock and the sweeping, exuberant sound that is a staple of the album. But the powerful, emotionally-full lyrics are what really make Lonerism a transcendent work of art. More layered than one can pick up on from the initial listen, Lonerism is so much more than a mesh of psychedelic, electronica, pop-rock; it is an album that is grandiose through musical exploration and the story that is weaved through each and every song.