Album Review: Tame Impala - The Slow Rush


Tame Impala, the experimental project of Kevin Parker, has been releasing excellent music for a decade now, a feat that's not easy to achieve. To consistently release great album after great album is a challenging thing to do, with many falling down after two or three records, a fate that Tame Impala had impressively avoided so far. It's a shame, then, that his second decade as a professional artist begins with an album that is rather, well...tame.


'One More Year' is a promising opener, thrusting us back into the familiar territory of reverb and pads, still refreshingly different to everyone else and yet remaining catchy in its own way. It's a deceitful song, tricking you into thinking that this will be another great album. Instead, it slowly slides downhill from here as each song starts to pass you by without making much of a mark.


The problem is that it's "fine", which is disappointing for an artist like Parker. There's not much inherently wrong with the record, not much to actually point out and say it's bad. But when you're listening to almost an entire hour of music, you want to be entertained. More importantly, perhaps, you want to feel in some way - whether that be happy, sad, energetic or even angry. The Slow Rush is lacking that feel, coming across like a record that you played to a computer, which then made some music based on what it heard. It's certainly got all the staple elements of a Tame Impala record, but it never does much with them.


This is particularly evident from 'Posthumous Forgiveness' to 'On Track', a section of the album comprising of four songs that each span over five minutes - the first two over six minutes, in fact. It's about 23 minutes of songs, none of which go very far. There are flashes of quality in each - Breathe Deeper is quite fun, in fairness - but there's a definite lack of scrutiny in there. It seems that Parker preferred song length over everything else, refusing to cut these songs down to make them more compact and focussed, something that no doubt would have benefitted them and the album as a whole.


Luckily, it's not all doom and gloom. Stronger moments include the funky 'Is It True', which certainly takes influence from the likes of Daft Punk, and 'Glimmer', a refreshingly short piece with a synth that is reminiscent of Underworld's 'Born Slippy .NUXX'. The album's closer 'One More Hour', however, is undoubtedly the highlight and it may be the only track on the album which fully justifies its increased length. It twists and turns, rises and falls, and does everything you'd want the album to do as a whole. It's a microcosm of what we could have gotten and a great way to close an album that, on the whole, doesn't quite live up to its expectations.


What will save the album is the fact that there is still no-one else out there quite like Tame Impala. Parker's sound is unique and that is something that remains on this album. But given his track record over the last decade, he's certainly capable of better than this and you're left with a lingering sense of disappointment once the album ends. There's a lack of humanity here, a crucial element in music like this, and instead it feels like music generated by algorithms. It's completely serviceable throughout, with a few highs and a few lows. Tame Impala should be better than that, and with any luck this will just be a blip in Parker's otherwise exemplary catalogue.


6/10