A breathy, rhythmic voice starts chanting, “I gotta be above it” with chugging drums following suit. Vocals introduce the melody; sounding like a life-changing revelation has just taken place. Grandiose synths interject, creating the feeling of lifting off into the air. This is all a call to get on the psychedelic rock train. All aboard, we’re listening to Lonerism, the new LP from Tame Impala.
This is the second, much anticipated full length from the psychedelically awesome “epiphany pop” band from Perth, Australia. Their biggest single from their first album was “Solitude is Bliss,” and Lonerism seems to pick right up where they left off with themes of solitude and self-discovery. This album is the sonic equivalent of taking peyote and withdrawing into the wilderness on a spirit quest.
The lyrics help to define the song meanings, but the instrumental jam outs are the real journey that conveys the feeling. Even the song titles are enough as markers in an abstract reverb-soaked guitar overdrive journey. With titles like “Mind Mischief,” “Music to Walk Home By,” “Feels Like We Only Go Backward,” and “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control,” it’s clear these songs are the result of some serious philosophical life pondering. The latter, while being one of the longest titles in history, is maybe the most philosophic on the album. How affirming it is to believe that we have nothing to be guilty about.
Tame Impala seem to be effectively channeling a nostalgic vision of big guitar sound arena rock from the 70s, while transporting the mind to something beyond back then and the present combined. So much of the record is full of these levitating Neil Young-esque guitar lines, such as on the intro to “Mind Mischief,” with the bass carving out the winding path and leading you into this sonic bubble where nothing outside of it matters. It becomes a very weightless feeling until the sprinkled-in tracks that force your eyes open again, like single “Elephant,” that invokes Black Sabbath like whoa. Coincidentally, Black Sabbath has a song off Master of Reality called “Solitude,” that is perhaps a solid staple in the band’s record collection. That whole album could easily be argued as not only being a main inspiration for Lonerisms but also for their general modus operandi.
There are songs that switch up the pace, too. “Why Won’t They Talk To Me” comes off as a poppy disco space invaders soundtrack in many aspects, and the closing track “Sun’s Coming Up” is a sobering piano-heavy, wake up serenade that pries your eyes back open to remind you that being grounded is just as necessary as the mind-floating journey. The final morning after suite is book-ended with what sounds like a sail rippling in the wind. The tide’s already washing in, it’s time to come back down and start the day anew.