Review: Tame Impala ‘Lost In Yesterday’
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Neil Krug
People have been putting labels on Kevin Parker since he began with Tame Impala and not one of them has been correct. InnerSpeaker drew an inevitable comparison to the Beatles and psychedelic rock, an association which, despite being well past it’s used by date, continued to be made well into the time of third album Currents despite Parker now had more in common with Michael Jackson, Daft Punk and Chicago’s ‘Hard Habit To Break’. Why try and fit him into a box? If a listener is going to ask themselves or someone else what kind of music Tame Impala is making they are never going to really find a satisfactory answer. Drawing in whatever influences catch his ear and combine them with his present state of mind, Parker’s output is always changing. It doesn’t matter if it’s schmaltzy or outright weird, so long as it serves the emotion he’s trying to get across.
‘Lost In Yesterday’, the latest in succession of musical contrasts from forthcoming album The Slow Rush, embodies this. It’s different from that which has come before. First single ‘It Might Be Time’ was a snappy party tune, ‘Borderline’ a catchy confessional and ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’ personal evisceration set to a symphonic sweep worthy of sitting beside Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’. As different as they are all these songs are unified in their embrace of the giddy headrushes emotion which overcome an individual as time slips by around them.
Carrying along with this sameness in theme yet difference in form is ‘Lost In Yesterday’. Calling back to Currents ‘The Moment’, at first impression it again sails along with the same vibration of Tears For Fears‘ ‘Everbody Wants To Rule The World‘. When Kevin operates in a synth-pop mode like this, he tends to draw complaints from the riff hungry among his fanbase. But it’s these appeals to the softer side which ensure Tame continues to draw in a wider audience.
Lyrically Kevin is again looking back at the past. “When we were livin’ in squalor, wasn’t it Heaven?” he sings. “Back when we used to get on it four out of seven?” It’s not too far of a stretch to place the times which he contemplates as those which occurred in the Perth sharehouse he coinhabited with several of his current band members prior to the success of InnerSpeaker. the time when he wasn’t a popular artist but a confused twenty-something stoned and sitting on the porch wondering what day it was.
Parker grapples with the value of nostalgia. How much of it is it worth holding on to and how much should be let go? “If they call you, embrace them,” Tame Impala’s mastermind muses. “If they hold you, erase them.” This statement puts the listener square into the lyrical reality of this song and The Slow Rush as a whole. If this music speaks to you hold on to it. If it doesn’t? Let it go.
Parker’s music, while understated, is ambitious. His changes song-to-song beckon fans to follow him into the future or risk becoming lost in the yesterday of Currents, Lonerism or InnerSpeaker. His musical fasciations have a way of leaving some of those who followed him in past behind but a gift for melody and lyrical honesty always sees him managing to draw in far more than he loses. Take him as he is or let him go, whatever the listener’s choice, Parker’s intention is clear. He’s not about to get hung up on the past.