By Michelle Gunaselan
My first taste of psychedelic rock came when I was four. At Christmas gatherings filled with laughter, wine and bellies engorged with food, my uncle and aunt would put on records by The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix. We would dance, while my despondent grandfather looked disapprovingly at this spectacle, sipping his whisky and smoking his Benson & Hedges.
I suspect these memories of love, of family, of sitting on porches during long monsoons, sun, and thinking about how mellifluous this music made the world look explains my affinity for the kind of music Tame Impala creates. After thoroughly enjoying Innerspeaker, I wasn’t sure if Kevin Parker could push anymore boundaries. How mistaken I was. Two years later, the glorious result is Lonerism, an ode to what these records meant and still mean to me --- sepia-tinted images which serve as warmth whenever Life slipped by, in that mercurial way that Life does.
This album features once again Parker’s laconic songwriting, lazy guitar-synth sound, coupled with a technological savvy that makes for a sound that is superbly authentic, and an unhindered merge between new and old. Lonerism is deliciously dark at places, but surprisingly hopeful in others. The contrast between both extremes results in an album that is not only bold, but most importantly, alive. It embraces the shadows in your head, and becomes fast friends with them, making a repeated distinction between being lonely, and grasping for blissful solitude. With each song, Parker slips in tightly gossamer wrapped gifts. The desperately whispered Be Above It, the languorous wind sweeping at the end of Sun’s Coming Up, coupled with lazily distorted guitars, it is a sensual reminder of sticky, summer heat. My favourite is the torch song, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, an effortlessly dreamy (and super catchy!) arrangement about the pains of indecision, love and the exquisite futility of wanting something you cannot grasp.
Having listened to the album many times, and still discovering something new each time, Lonerism continues to be an absolutely delightful experience in melody, psychedelia and nostalgia. This Christmas Eve, I will be in charge of the music at family dinner. My aunt and uncle have handed over these very important responsibilities to me now. And I’ll be there waiting with our records, watching to see if my family will remember what it used to be like, and with any luck, we will dance.