Album: The Slow Rush
Artist: Tame Impala
Label: Modular Recordings
Non-Airable Tracks: N/A
The Slow Rush is Tame Impala’s Fourth studio album, whose release was originally anticipated for summer of 2019, but was pushed to today: Valentine’s Day, 2020. Since the beginning of 2019, Parker has released five singles ahead of the album: “Patience,” “Borderline,” “It Might Be Time,” “Posthumous Forgiveness,” and, finally, “Lost in Yesterday.” Four of these singles were ultimately on the album, whereas “Patience” was not included and, for the first time in Tame Impala history, an unreleased version of “Borderline” was included on the album.
The structure of the album plays with the theme of time. The first song, “One More Year” is an ultimate banger. He plays with the idea of speed by slowing down a vocal loop and mixing it with a really cool funk beat. Then, he comes in and starts singing almost as though he is talking. Through the sound and lyrics, Kevin creates an insane landscape of being alone, together. He delivers the line, “I worry our horizons bear nothing more” with a haunting violin undertone. Nonetheless, the whole song keeps a sick beat throughout and builds up to something super incredible. Kevin even takes on something of a preacher’s tone at the end of the song when he yells, “four seasons, one reason, one way, one year!” Before the song breaks into an indescribable amalgamation of beats and synths.
Before you even have time to process what you just heard, “Instant Destiny” jumps in. This is a glitzy, fun, and upbeat song. This song is the perfect transition from “One More Year” into “Borderline.” The thing is, “One More Year” is an absolute mind blower, so a song like this almost serves as a cool-down, but it’s still really nice with a pretty melody. As is the case with many Tame Impala songs, while this song didn’t completely blow my mind at first, I know that it will grow on me with time, until I ultimately get to a point where I’m screaming along to this song in my car and crying in traffic.
Next up is the remixed version of “Borderline.” Although “Borderline” was my least favorite of the pre-released tracks, the additions that Kevin made completely changed the song. He added a really cool, synthy bass line to underscore his falsetto voice and melody. It comes together in a really amazing way and now it’s one of my favorite songs on the album. The song has a repetitive comedown that seems to be a homage to comedown anxiety.
The album then breaks into “Posthumous Forgiveness,” which was also released ahead of the album. Fun fact: a clip from Posthumous was actually featured on Kevin’s Instagram earlier in 2019. In this song, Kevin shares feelings he holds towards his late father though a synthesized ballad. He contrasts a slow, droning melody with bongos and the occasional harsh interjection of repetitive, alarming beats that break into little washes of sound. Some of the melodies in this song are really beyond description, as the song is a journey from start to finish.
Breathe deeper is a more upbeat song featuring even more bongos. In 2019, Kevin Parker produced “Tomorrow” for Kali Uchis’s album Isolation, and since then, I have been curious to see how elements of pop music would manifest on this album. He also said that this is his most Mariah Carey inspired song. While I am not sure if this was his intention, on this song, Kevin Parker sings like a pop star. The beats are sick throughout the song, but remain restrained. There is also a flute! However, towards the end of the song, Kevin plays with distorted, grainy beats that almost feel reminiscent of “Rollin and Scratchin” by Daft Punk.
The next song, “Tomorrow’s Dust,” is incredible. When I heard the strum of the first few chords, I immediately recognized that this was teased on Tame Impala website. Having listened to that teaser endlessly, I instantly knew that I was in for something I could not possibly be prepared for. Therefore, I will be brief in my attempt to relay what my ears heard. At the beginning, Kevin sounds haunting, even biblical, almost like a Madonna. Then, this song turns into something like a long, confusing question, where, at its climax, an answer is found. This song is glittery, wavy, fun, tear-jerking, and awe-inspiring. Therefore, I will not attempt to describe it any more.
The next song, “On Track” Starts out super slow. Kevin said it was his attempt at creating something reminiscent of 1970’s power-balladry. The song builds up slowly and it is pretty stripped back and piano driven. I will admit,this song is not my favorite but much like “Instant Destiny,” I imagine that at some point in my life there will come a specific brand of mental breakdown that will lead to me singing and crying along to this song. It’s a Slow Rush, if you will. This song also features a little clip of another song, about which Kevin said that he “likes to imagine is a clip of a song that exists in full in a parallel universe.”
“Lost in Yesterday,” was also released before the album, and it has a very upbeat tune. I think that this single is fun, catchy, and billowing, and was the last perfect gem for Kevin to share before the album’s release. In the context of the rest of this album, this song feels refreshing.
The next song, “Is it True”, starts out immediately with a more funky bass line and a much lighter sound than “Lost in Yesterday.” He starts with a story-like intro and then as the song breaks into a chorus, we get a mix of warped repetitive lyrics. Through the distortion, the sound has an effect that reminds me of racing thoughts. This song ends with a chill, wavy, synth line that fades into “It Might Be Time.”
I love “It Might Be Time” for the painfully self-destructive lyrics. Even though Kevin Parker is a global music sensation, he still is willing to show such a personal side of his thoughts. He shares darkness, insecurity, and self-doubt to a tune that plays over a fun, hard bass line. It is also worth noting that Kevin Parker belts out some crazy notes throughout this song. Overall, I would sum up “It Might Be Time” as the song that’d be playing at the funeral for your dignity.
The next song, “Glimmer,” reminds me of “Disciples” (from Currents). It is a two minute track with a heavy bass line (that Kevin pokes fun at in short intro) and some funky synth waves. It reminds me of the sun rising over an ocean, and draws heavy inspiration from disco with that special Tame Impala twist.
And, finally, at the end of our journey, we land at “One More Hour,” which is filled with crashing waves and depressing synth lines. I feel like Kevin heard all the bros on R/tameimpala begging for Lonerism 2.0, and made this song as a special treat for them. Also, as a huge fan of Lonerism myself, I am incredibly excited to hear a new Tame Impala song that sounds like this. It is full of crazy drum lines, crashing waves of synth lines, a little touch of piano, and a seven minute buildup to a mind-melting finale, dedicated entirely to love!
In conclusion, I have been looking forward to The Slow Rush for more time than I feel good about admitting. Some may say that all of that anticipation may have made it so that I built my expectations higher than Kevin could reach. However, I could have never anticipated the myriad of creative and production choices that made it onto this album, nor could I have guessed that the album would so beautifully encapsulate themes of time and speed in a consistent format. I love the way that Kevin Parker explores love and devotion, but also self doubt, anxiety, and insecurities. Finally, and most importantly, I love how amazing and mind-blowing the instrumentation is.
Overall, I rate the album 10/10!
Reviewer: Jessica Murray
Review Date: 02/14/2020