Cover Art: Sophie Cheng
It’s safe to say that most teenagers have heard the song with the line, “OH THE LESS I KNOW THE BETTER.” I mean, with a whopping 700 million streams on Spotify, and an 8-week streak on America’s Top Hits Billboard in 2016, it is pretty hard not to have heard of Tame Impala’s The Less I Know The Better by now. In 2020, the international sensation hit Platinum after making a resurgence on the Internet through TikTok. Personally, I am proud to say that I managed to catch on to the Tame Impala craze before most teenagers did, but I am still quite new to the fanbase. For those who somehow still don’t know much about Tame Impala or who he is, I imagine that you are absolutely puzzled, as I was, by this strange moniker—“Tame Impala.”
Isn’t an “Impala” an African antelope? What is this band’s actual name? Those were my first two thoughts after Tame Impala was recommended to me by a friend exactly a year ago today. Well, interestingly, “Tame Impala” is the stage name of the one-man-band led/created by Kevin Parker from Perth, Australia. Indeed, Parker named himself after an antelope, as he says in an interview, after having a “real, brief unspoken moment” and deep communication with the antelope before it returned to the wild. Influenced by various sixties bands such as The Doors and the unique sound and approach of Kanye West, Parker is the mastermind behind the unique, complex synths and vocals that are evident in all of his songs.
Unlike usual celebrities with eccentric, elaborate dress and trademarked style, Parker is just as nonchalant and groovy as his music, rocking a T-Shirt, fun-colored pants, and some comfy flip-flops with his long hair and scruff. Not only does Parker write and record his music, but he performs and produces it as well, making him the psychedelic-pop genius he is with internationally-acclaimed artistry filled with catchy tunes, swirling basslines, and pulsing beats.
Personally, there is something about Tame Impala’s pulsing groove that gets my heart thumping and bumping with every listen. No matter my location, his dreamy, nostalgia-inducing melodies and ethereal vocals echo into my ears and generate an overwhelming sense of euphoria. Currents of base and electric guitar vibrate through my body, birthing an infinitely-moving Slow Rush of sound that entrances my soul—and I’m not even exaggerating.
Tame Impala has produced four albums: Innerspeaker in 2010, Lonerism in 2012, Currents in 2016, and Slow Rush in 2020. Out of these four, I have got to say that Currents is my absolute favorite, and I have streamed the full album at least once every couple of days for the last year. Beginning with the seven-minute hit Let It Happen, you are introduced to the surface of the album with light, drifting synths and a heavy beat that reminds you of summertime beach-fun. But as you keep listening to the song and Parker’s melancholy storyline, you understand its depth and bittersweet aftertaste. By the end of the seven long minutes, you are inundated with thoughts ranging from enchanting illusions to deep, contemplative thinking of the world around you. You become entranced into a dream-like, psychedelic state of euphoria, and lay there speechless. By the second song, Nangs, you’re drifting through the seemingly endless tranquil waters of the sea, swaying side to side.
What I love most about this album is that it perfectly mixes dreamy with pensive. I may be sailing in the middle of nowhere, but I am still always thinking about something. For example, by the eighth song of the album, Past Life, Tame Impala is able to evoke nostalgia for my past existence and state of life pre-quarantine. By the album’s eleventh song, Reality in Motion, I am back on my feet, running through the Great Lawn of Central Park with my friends, throwing frisbees and sipping iced lemonades. And by the end of the 13-song-album, following Tame Impala’s recurrent theme of bittersweet, I am rebirthed as a New Person, Same Old Mistakes, lying on my bed and back in my contemplative state, having woken up from my thirteen dreams, and now understanding the world around me and my inner self with a new perspective.
Although everyone’s Tame Impala experience differs depending on what you envision or ponder, the entrancing qualities and funky groove are apparent to everyone. For those who are already familiar with Tame Impala or those who are intrigued to hear some songs, make sure to prepare to groove and lose yourself in dreams, and listen to some of my suggestions below:
The Less I Know The Better
Let It Happen
Cause I’m A Man
The Slow Rush (2020)
Lost in Yesterday
Is It True
Inner Speaker (2010)
It Is Not Meant To Be