By Baby Tuckoo
“Grumpy bum, grumpy bum, grumpy bum, grumpy bum…”
I’m a little bit wasted. Here goes.
Beautiful! Australian band Tame Impala’s sophomore album is an ode to loneliness and isolation.
The record cover, designed by Leif Podhajsky, instantly places the holder in the outsider position. Not something we’re all comfortable with but one immediately has the feeling of being some sort of Parisian Travis Bickle. Le Taxi Chauffeur? Okay, maybe not.
For the trivialists out there, the cover is a vintage image of the Jardin du Luxembourg – basically, Paris’s Grand Central Park.
Lonerism kicks off with Be Above It, with the repeated, whispered words “Grumpy-bum” throughout as percussion. It’s off to a great, subversive start.
Thish might well be the cheap boozhe talking now… but the album itself is a superb thick, psychedelic mess of keyboard riffs, tom-tom riffs, some ga-ga-ga-groovy bass and fuzzed out 70s guitars. All this, topped with the reverbed-to-the-teeth, Lennon and Daliesque vocal melodies of Kevin Parker.
Although the album doesn’t boast a great deal of “memorable” tunes that one might spontaneously start humming, it certainly creates a perfect, psychedelic, summer soundtrack. This is a band who make no bones about their link to 1970s psychedelica. It’s revisionist, yes, but they do it wholeheartedly.
Parker revealed that the album title and general themes of isolation and introspection were selected when they “were touring so much and doing all these gigs and going to places with people. It reminded me of when I was a kid trying to be social and trying to be a people person and realising that I’m not.”
“The last years of touring and me being a people person is just something that’s not in my blood. All these cool parties just make me realise I’m just a total outcast. I just can’t really talk to anyone without feeling stupid. Sometimes I just want to run home and never come out of my bedroom again”
Yeah, I feel that.
The album does have it’s brighter moments – admittedly, just one: Elephant.
Although appearing bright and chirpy at first, the song is an ultra-paranoid poke at those life-of-the-party folks:
I bet he feels like an elephant
Shaking his big grey trunk for the hell of it
He knows that you dreamin’ about being over him
Too bad your chances are slim
And it’s not like Mr. Show
To get shy when they ask him who is on top
There must be something deep down in the dark down there
He’s not too easily scared
The album ends with a melancholy ballad, an ode to the stoned, of sorts – All Nighter. If you are familiar with the introspective, bloodshot-eyed states of mind that stoners attain before the sun starts to poke its happy lil’ head above the horizon, you’ll understand exactly what Parker was trying to say. Particularly on the closing interlude – a recorded-on-my-tape-deck-in-a-hotel-room-after-a-finishing-a-show, hidden track-esque, space out.
Lonerism is a paranoid, psychedelic trip into the minds of Kevin Parker and co. Sometimes disturbing and frequently depressive, the music still has a propulsive edge that keeps it from venturing into the realm of self-indulgence.
In the cold, cold night a boy was birthed. A flash of white noise; nearby televisions sparked; then returned to normal. Viewer’s wrongly put it down to electrical storm interference. The boy entered the machine. He’s been trying to escape ever since.