Tame Impala: The Slow Rush (Interscope) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, April 3rd, 2020  

Tame Impala

The Slow Rush

Interscope

Mar 23, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The truth about music criticism is you don’t spend that much time with the record in question. Some huge bands have events where journalists cram into a room in New York or LA and listen to the album, take their notes, and write their reviews based upon that. I listen to every record back to front at least a couple of times. Do most people do this? I don’t know, but I would doubt it. The most time I’ve ever spent with a record prior to writing about it was LCD Soundsystem’s This is Happening, partially because I went on a solo hike, got lost, and listening to it was the only thing keeping me from falling deeper into absolute, shuddering panic. I made it through the album an easy dozen times, half of them on that hike. Usually, I land somewhere between the two: more than a few listens, less than it preventing me from launching myself off a cliff.   

I volunteered to review Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush with a ton of excitement. To me, each of Kevin Parker’s albums had gotten better and better, to the point where 2015’s Currents was one of my three favorite albums of the decade. I loved the singles off The Slow Rush that had been released, particularly the skittering beat and seductive bassline of “Lost in Yesterday.”

The deadline for my review came and went. For a variety of reasons, none of them that compelling (I have not been lost on a hike for five weeks) I didn’t turn it in. I didn’t complete it, in fact. But I kept listening to the record. I had a new child at home, and would put it on while doing laundry and washing out bottles at the sink. In other words, I lived with The Slow Rush. A lot of what I said in that original, unfinished review still stand—I still think Parker is one of the best producers alive. I still adore the earworm “Is It True” with its chunky bassline and beautiful breakdown two and a half minutes in, which is packed with more ideas and more tunefulness than many bands can muster in an entire album. I’d go to battle with the trifecta of “Lost in Yesterday,” “Is It True,” and “It Might Be Time” (which counters syrupy Supertramp keys with a buzzsaw guitar and intensely heavy drums) as one of the best runs on any album of recent vintage.

But the way my favorite records grow on me, where my argument for the best song or the most underrated song changes and my allegiances flip every few listens, hasn’t happened with The Slow Rush the way I assumed it would. When projecting forward for the review, I figured that it would worm its way into my psyche as had Currents or Lonerism (2012’s sludgy psych masterpiece). It hasn’t.

Is this a shortcoming of the album itself? I don’t know. I do know that for me, the pleasures are more skin-deep than Parker’s previous work. Some of his affection for perfect pop songs, and perhaps his work with artists like SZA and Travis Scott have him more focused on that. Which is incredibly difficult to do. Parker has spent his career toeing the line between what would’ve dominated the radio when radio was a thing and something more subtle and artful, and The Slow Rush, without a doubt, sticks a whole foot over that line here and there into the realm of mass appeal. Which is fine, and danceable, and catchy as hell, and will live on in that capacity. That is a true achievement. But nothing breaks my heart in the same way Currents does half a dozen times.

Some of this is the way The Slow Rush holds together. Something about the stickiness of it, the memory of one track bleeding into another, isn’t as apparent as on his previous work. This makes it easier to skip around, and this makes those singles feel more like singles. It is immaculate music, loaded with little side roads and detours, and I will listen to it probably hundreds of times, but there’s that little something missing, that dagger to my chest, that shiver up my spine that I thought would hit me long before now. It’s what separates very good albums from masterpieces, and it’s something that becomes clearer and clearer over time. Time I’ve now had with The Slow Rush, which I like an awful lot, but has failed to make me fall in love. (official.tameimpala.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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Cory Kraft
March 24th 2020
7:36am

Awesome review- I appreciate that you took some time with the album, and that it’s not a “kneejerk” review like many that came out the same day as the album.  I share many of your sentiments, and continue to delve into the album every few days.  My favorite song keeps changing, just not as frequently or as impactfully as the songs on Currents did.  That’s okay- they can’t all be masterpieces.  8/10