On Valentine’s Day 2020, Aussie multi-instrumentalist and mastermind Kevin Parker’s psych-rock project, Tame Impala, released their fourth studio album. It’s titled The Slow Rush, and I politely ask that you pause your day and listen right now. Why? Not only is it a spectacular sonic adventure and kaleidoscopic cornucopia of eclectic color, but it’s thematically relevant to life at Yale.
The Slow Rush is the effective consolidation of Parker’s maturation. The album is born from the tension between his struggle to come to terms with a long perpetuated self-image and the aim to cope with the anxieties engendered by an uncertain future. Parker oscillates between the desire to change and the fear of losing sense of one’s identity. It is a raw, candid statement, expressed in a form that’s delicate and accessible.
Transcending the stress brought on by his unexpected fame following 2015’s Currents, Parker recognizes his inner loner stoner—from which much of his music so far has stemmed. However, Parker nods at his older self with acceptance as he lets the shadows of his past evolve and live on within him. He avoids the common pitfall of newly-famous artists who become parodies of themselves. He successfully overcomes angsty adolescence, which characterized his early work. The name of the game is reconciliation, and Parker understands that he will have to undertake his artistic and personal evolution one small step at a time. Fortunately, he’s up to the challenge—he can finally find peace in growing up and moving on.
All this is deducible from the sonic landscape as well as the lyrical tapestry. The writing is Parker’s most explicitly personal to date: “Posthumous Forgiveness,” in particular, presents a heart-wrenching address to his late, estranged father. The instrumental is a tasteful marriage of his early garage rock guitar riggs and later affinity for catchy pop hooks, all held in place by a warm ocean of synths and rich layers of textured percussion. There are moments of bliss and melancholy, invitations for dancing your head off and contemplating the cosmos alike.
There’s much to ponder, and much to run after, but the mind-body can’t take more than one deep breath at a time. So, festina lente, or: make haste slowly.
And, in the meantime, I’ll leave you with these lines from the album:
If it calls you, embrace it
If it haunts you, face it
If it holds you, erase it; replace it