The endless work that goes into just a single song can consume artists whole and spit them out, leaving them with nothing left to give. Tame Impala- the one man machine commanded by musician and producer Kevin Parker- are a band that have achieved these heights before. 2015's Currents changed Parker from celebrated psych-star into a world-wide superstar, becoming the darling of the industry. Now he's back with The Slow Rush.
This focus on the minutiae is what sets Parker apart from other self-produced musicians. This is most evident on 'Borderline' which made a huge splash as the first single from the record, being praised as one of the best songs of 2019. Of course, that wasn't enough for Parker who felt that the song was still lacking something, leading him to revise the song for the album. 30 seconds were shaved off and the bassline was made far more prominent. What would be considered a bold move for artists turned out to be a success, as the adjustment to the bass cascades nicely over the synths.
Where Currents won hearts thanks to Parker's ability to infuse his signature psychedelic sound with a constant dance groove, The Slow Rush takes its influence from more old school dance-hall music- primarily disco. Cuts like 'Breathe Deeper' makes use of afrobeat style drums alongside a beautifully retro sounding synth, fading into a dancey outro. Additionally, 'On Track' makes use of some fantastic vocal production as Kevin's vocals harmonize pefectly with each other throughout the track. The production here is tighter than ever with each track seemingly being put under a microscope before ever getting near the album. This is Parker at his unbelievable best, making the case for him being the best self-produced artist on the planet.
Thematically too we're in new territory for a Tame Impala record. Innerspeaker and Lonerism focused more on feelings of isolation, which was developed on Currents which is inspired by love and loss. The Slow Rush in comparison is time-centric both retrospective and prospective at the same time. Tracks like 'Lost in Yesterday' and 'Posthumous Forgiveness' revolve around Kevin's past sorrows, with the latter addressed to his deceased father and the grievances his loss has caused. Yet, Parker is still thinking about the future and his place in it. The album is bookended by 'One More Year' and 'One More Hour' which showcase a hopeful side of Kevin, proud of what he has achieved and prepared for what is to come.
The follow up to Currents was always going to be difficult. Most artists can never escape their best album. Tame Impala though are not most artists, and The Slow Rush certainly isn't living in shadow of what came before.