Beginning with the psychedelic vibes of Tame Impala’s 2010 debut, “Innerspeaker,” the group — which, on record, is Kevin Parker alone — has gained acclaim for creating soundscapes that skirt the boundaries of pop, rock and dance music. The constant is Parker’s ethereal falsetto, which can sound like siren call from a distant world.
In the decade since “Innerspeaker,” Parker has gone from prog-rock prodigy to festival headliner. He’s also released two more albums, including 2015’s critically-lauded “Currents,” and collaborated with or remixed songs by everyone from Lady Gaga and Kanye West to Mark Ronson, Travis Scott and Zhu. Riding high on arena sell-outs and copious praise from music critics, the countdown to Parker’s fourth album seemingly started the moment “Currents” was released.
Five years later, it’s finally here, and the record’s title may be a wink to those who expected the album to drop when Tame Impala headlined both weekends of Coachella and served as the musical guest for “Saturday Night Live” — last spring. Parker recently acknowledged this was originally the plan, telling UPROXX that he had to “embody a bit of a Kanye West perspective” in choosing to hold off on releasing “The Slow Rush” before it was ready.
Fortunately, it was worth the wait: “The Slow Rush” is arguably Parker’s most fully realized and satisfying effort to date. While lyrically, the album seems a bit escapist, Parker likes to operate somewhere in the middle, dabbling in the personal but often only as a piece of a larger meditation. The mournful guitar and hazy malaise that hangs over “Posthumous Forgiveness” sets the tone for Parker to attempt a reconciliation with his late father. Meanwhile, opener “One More Year” manages to translate an anxiety attack — “‘Cuz I get this feeling and maybe you get it too / We’re on a roller coaster stuck on its loop-de-loop” — into a unique 14/4 time signature that deftly masquerades as something more familiar to the ear.
When the climax of “One More Year” arrives in the form of an eruption of pulsating keyboards, listeners may wonder if Parker’s latest album will indeed include a worthy successor to the stomper “Elephant” (from Tame Impala’s sophomore effort, “Lonerism”), but such thoughts dissipate by the song’s coda, which turns ethereal, a universe removed from the chaos of a moment before.
The concept of time recurs throughout the album. The single “It Might Be Time” finds Parker cynically saying, “It might be time to face it / “You ain’t as young as you used to be,” while elsewhere, “One More Hour” — the album’s closing track — serves as a bookend to the opener, “One More Year.”
And whether or not those time references are a sly wink to the five years between “Currents” and this album, “The Slow Rush” proves that Parker has earned all the time he needs.