Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Since Kevin Parker’s solo project Tame Impala cracked the global mainstream with 2015’s Currents, he has headlined Coachella, written lyrics with Lady Gaga, guested on Mark Ronson’s album, earnt songwriting credits for Kanye West and been covered by Rihanna.
The Slow Rush is the Australian’s first release since that breakthrough record, on which Parker shifted his guitar-heavy psych-rock into synth-driven territory – and this fourth LP polishes that dancier sound into his slickest dancefloor-ready music yet.
That’s not to say he’s lost the signature introspective quality of his hazy yet soulful vocals, which drift blissfully against the beats and glossy piano of songs such as “Breathe Deeper”, and the circling acoustic guitar of the dreamy “Tomorrow’s Dust”. This is not an album with big, standout moments. Parker is a master of studio songcraft; each track flows seamlessly from one to the next in one cohesive journey, capturing uplifting, laidback summer vibes throughout.
The album’s first single “Borderline” encapsulates that resplendent mood with a grooving bassline and electric panflutes wafting over its soft-rock edge, while “Is It True” drives forward with congas and proggy synth flourishes.
“Nothing lasts forever/ It might be time to face it/ You ain’t as young as you used to be”, he sings on prog-pop track “It Might Be Time”, but while Parker might be facing up to the ageing process, it certainly sounds like he’s enjoying himself. EB
Nathaniel Rateliff – And It’s Still Alright
Marrying laidback folk, rock, and rhythm and blues, Nathaniel Rateliff is an intriguing proposition. The American is an accomplished singer-songwriter, has a handful of albums under his belt, and was previously described by The New York Times as a local folk-pop hero in Denver’s close-knit music scene. But his latest LP largely lacks killer tunes.
The opening half of And It’s Still Alright is pleasant enough. From the plodding beats and slide guitar of “What A Drag” to the catchy “do do dos” of “Expecting To Lose”, the crisp bluesy production is held together by the glue of Rateliff’s imposing, soulful voice.
But the songwriter doesn’t find his killer instinct until the album draws to a close. Underpinned by organs and synths, “Time Stands” has a hymn-like quality, slowly building to a final chorus in which Rateliff just lets his vocals tear through each line. “Kissing Our Friends”, a reverb-kissed folk ballad, would sit easily on Eddie Vedder’s underrated 2007 soundtrack for Into the Wild, while “Rush On”, a six-minute epic, bookends the record with another gut-wrenching vocal performance, before a dissonant mix of screeching guitars and ethereal synths takes hold. ZT