It is seemingly human nature to use music to supplement our love lives. Some may sing along to The Beatles to find the words they cannot say, or some may play records of Marvin Gaye to literally get it on. That all said, when music IS your love rather than merely a romantic accessory, it’s a whole different game. In the case of Kevin Parker, the albums he has birthed are like love-children powered by a revolutionary relationship with music that has single handedly changed the pace of musical production forever. This February 14th, 2020, Kevin Parker released his love letter to music, for the fifth album from Tame Impala explores yet another genre of sensory specific sound with a touch of sensuality.
Being a decade since Parker’s first album as Tame Impala, The Slow Rush explores themes of time and change with an emphasis less on rock and more on disco. Although many Tame Impala tracks throughout the years have had the ecstasy-esque allure of a dance club, The Slow Rush uses stimulating grooviness as a medium of humanity within our current reality. Being 5 years since Parker released Currents– the album that I personally attribute to my first kiss with the love of my young life- The Slow Rush elucidates our collective infatuation with perfection. Yes, Parker has headlined every festival of our fantasies and has sold out shows around the world, but the time spent on such a newfangled album for his career ultimately brings us back to the things that connect us as a community under music. With twelve tracks that focus on a sound outside our Tame Impala assumptions, this album reminds us that even our idols like Parker are human, sharing the evolutionary experience of music right next to us.
The album begins with “One More Year,” an experimental take on our experience with the inevitability of aging. In Parker’s words, “We’re blissfully trapped,” which may be the reason that the instrumental of the song is a warped loop of Parker simply saying the title of the track again and again. All said, it is the bliss of this trap that is the key to this. We are all undeniably in love with the beauty of youthfulness, a feeling felt by many as we embrace a stage speaker despite the internal ear-drum damage that we’ll just deal with later. This track sets the pace of the album, blending any lines between implicit sounds and explicit words and making our idea of time more malleable.
The album then uses its undeniable waviness to surf through its evolution of energy. When Parker released the singles from the album throughout the last year, no one was prepared for the variation in genre that The Slow Rush gives us. Some songs are set in the psychedelic sound that we associate with Parker just as much as we associate with legends like The Grateful Dead. Others dance from funky disco to ballad-like form. The through-line, however, is the theme: how the relationships we cherish all have a relationship with time.
The seventh record from the album, “On Track,” sticks out like a sore thumb that needs no healing. Although the first twelve seconds seemed like another groove tune, it then shifts to a simple and serene touch of the piano. The rest of the album’s tracks made me want to share a dance with my lovers and friends, but as soon as I heard “On Track,” I wanted to keep this one for myself. After the next twelve seconds of the song, I pulled my car off the 405 freeway and shed an embarrassing amount of tears. Although we are young, we often feel that time is biting at our heels. We often fall in love with doubt, spraying anxieties of our future on our wrists like our favorite perfume. “On Track,” confronts that head-on, kicking away the monsters of time and reminding us, through the greatest simplicity in sound seen yet on the album, that we need not put any time limit or expiration date on what feeds our heart and soul.
The most important aspect of love is vulnerability, and The Slow Rush is set to break down our walls with its reinvention of a sound that invented its own sound. Kevin Parker has given us all a bouquet of Roses, each song like a petal that cannot be compared to another. We all have unique relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, and with realities of life that we may wish are not real. Through the 57 minutes of The Slow Rush, we learn that each of those relationships deserves kisses and candy as well as the affectionate attention that is vulnerable thought-provocation. On the first Valentine’s day of the decade, we are gifted the opportunity to use music to change our outlook on time. There are many words for the thanks we have for this album release, but in simple terms: Thank you, Kevin Parker. We love you.