Over the course of this site’s 10 year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Perth, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Kevin Parker, the creative mastermind behind the critically acclaimed and commercially successful psych pop/synth pop project Tame Impala.
Parker’s third Tame Impala album, 2015’s Currents was a critical and commercial breakthrough: released to wide-ranging critical applause across the blogosphere and elsewhere the album was a RIAA Gold-Certified, Grammy-nominated effort that revealed a decided change in direction for Parker’s songwriting and sound, as it featured some of his most emotionally direct lyrics paired with a nuanced and textured sound that drew from and meshed elements of psych rock, psych pop, prog rock, synth pop and R&B.
Released earlier this year, Parker’s fourth Tame Impala effort The Slow Rush continued an impressive and enviable run of critically applauded and commercially material, but unlike its immediate predecessor, the album thematically focuses on the rapid passing of time and life’s infinite cycles of creation and destruction — with the material conjuring the feeling of a lifetime in a lightning bolt, of major milestones and events whizzing by you while you’re staring at your phone. “A lot of the songs carry this idea of time passing, of seeing your life flash before your eyes, being able to see clearly your life from this point onwards. I’m being swept by this notion of time passing. There’s something really intoxicating about it,” Parker told the New York Times.
I’ve manged to write about five of The Slow Rush’s singles — the upbeat “Patience,” which seamlessly bridged ’90s house and ’70s funk while being a meditation on the cycles and phrases of life; “Borderline,” a hook-driven, blissed out track with house music flourishes; “It Might Be Time,”a swaggering prog rock meets psych pop anthem featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats and an enormous hook; “Lost in Yesterday,” a woozy and lysergic, disco-tinged banger that explored time’s distorting effect on perspective and memories; and “Is It True,” which continued a run of swooning yet dance floor friendly material that focused on the impermanence and confusion of love and the countless paths our lives can take with just one single decision.
Recently, Parker was invited to do a NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. By default, the presentation of Parker’s music different than what you made expect: in the studio, Parker writes, performs and records all the instrumental and programming parts of his material — and live, he has a insanely talented collection of touring musicians, who interpret the material. For his Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, Parker, got his longtime collaborator Jay Watson and Dom Simper to do an electronic jam with a shit ton of electronic gear, including samplers, sequencers and mixers and some instruments. “I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while and thought Tiny Desk would be the opportunity to do it,” Parker told NPR’s Bobby Carter.
So for this live session Paker, Watson and Simper performed the album’s more synth-based material “Breathe Deeper,”and the aforementioned “Is It True” and “Patience.” Interestingly, the NPR Tiny Desk session is a seamless synthesis of the live and studio approaches that manages to be faithful to the album’s material while giving it a free-flowing jam-like feel.