Psychedelic groove rock Australian band Tame Impala are back with their second album “Lonerism”. 2010’s Debut “Innerspeaker” was a jewel to listen to. So how has song writer multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker got on since then?
What can be said immediately about the first track “Be Above It” on “Lonersim” is WOW, you couldn’t ask for a better start to an album. The synth roars in like a Dragon, causing a swirling beating fire spin of psychedelic tones. The track sounds great and the vocals are catchy. The mood of the album is set right away, you know this is compulsive listening.
Next track “Endors Toi” is classic Tame Impala track that was written by Kevin in Paris where it was also recorded. It’s a full on wall of sound for your ears, and I couldn’t help cranking up to volume to hear all the sonic waves.
“Apocalypse Dreams” is the third track and has a poppy piano but soon explodes into splashes of gravity giving the track a spacious melodic progression. Next we have “Mind Mischief” which could have been taken from a 60’s master tape, it’s probably the most psychedelic track on the record and it takes the band to new heights.
“Music To Walk Home By” is a perfect example of the electricity Tame Impala have that no other bands have to offer right now, Kevin is producing something very unique. The drums are played with such passion, “Why Won’t They Talk To Me?” Could be any drunk persons late night ballad to a loved one, stumbling home struggling with a phone.
“Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is a fantastic ballad beginning with the chorus, in fact this song is just one massive cascading chorus. “Keep On Lying” is a bit of a miss match and doesn’t fit in somehow here, but next we have the bluesy “Elephant” which is one of the best tracks on the album. This song is a thumping pistol whipping track that makes you bop your head. I love it.
“Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” starts off with a brilliant synth lifted from any electronic fans ideal bar snack, this is what makes this album one of 2012’s best, its fresh and sounds new.
The album finishes off with “Sun’s Coming Up” an old piano hook belonging in an attic, but soon swings out of control to finish with distorted waves on a beach, a perfect suiting end to a magnificent album that has succeeded all expectations. I adore it.
***** 5 Stars
This is one of those records you listen to as the seasons are changing and it matches autumn perfectly. This is my own personal soundtrack for the coming months.
First track “Sleeping Ute” is a crashing swirling intense raw flavour biting every part of me. Second track “Speak in Rounds” calms things down at first but speeds up; its extra little niggles of guitar bursting in gives that feel good sound. I smile listening to it.
“Yet again” has a garage like sound to it but the vocals are soothing and calming. I can see the leaves falling off the trees at this point in the season session. “The Hunt” is a piano rich composition that steals odd influences from “Elbow” and “Radiohead”
Moving on to “A Simple Answer” with the kind of drumbeat I love. Marching through the “wastelands forever gone” Edward Droste sings delicately. “What’s Wrong” rewinds to the foregoing sounds we had in previous albums, “gun shy” is a whispered melody of gone forgotten summer, almost.
“Half gate” with its cello intro bursts into life offering hope. The echoing vocals sooth you after a long day in the cold October air, settling down with a glass of red and some round smoked cheese.
“Sun In Your Eyes” finishes the album off in a stripped down sing along to polish with a perfect crescendo finishing moment that leaves you breathless. What a journey, what a record.
***** 5 Stars
Pink is none of these; it starts with a droning African like drum sequence that seems to repeat through all of the 60 minutes and 26 second record (that’s right I was so bored I added up the runtime).
There are a couple more drones added to each track but that’s about it. The track “Jupiters” is a small exception, I love the synth pattern but this goes nowhere either, there is no structure, the drum loops seem like they have been pasted into a grid network. It’s such a pity because Four Tet had it so right in the previous outing.
I find myself annoyed when listening to this record, it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Its not easy listening; I cant listen to it on the bus, or in my room. There’s no place for it.
“Peace for Earth” is an 11-minute symphony of beeps. Its almost addictive, but I don’t know where I would listen to it. Music needs a place and with this record I can’t seem to match it to scenery.
Final track “Pinnacles” feels like a next album and doesn’t fit on this one. It still has no structure, but it’s lacking, perhaps lyrics or maybe I just dislike the African drum loops. The throbbing bass isn’t low enough, no impression is made from this album and when it was finished I turned it off and went straight back to “There Is Love in You.”
** 2 Stars
The first track “Angels” starts with where the last album left, more of the same. The first three tracks could belong on 2009’s debut offering. You have to wait until track 5: “Reunion” until things start getting different. The xx are still enchanting and addictive to listen to. I wanted to listen to this album and hate it, but I seem to be coming back to it (well the second part of the album anyway).
The track “Missing” is one of the highlights, better lyrics then most of what is on offer here. No track is too complex, but that is a good thing as The xx are masters of the minimalistic sound. Yes, they could have gone in a different direction and gone with a different sound, but they have stayed with what they know, and that’s not a bad thing. However this is album 1.5 and not album 2.
Jamie xx has produced a brilliant sounding album, the vocals sound great, the lyrics average (filler). The record ends quite abruptly and makes you want to listen again, which is good, but this album has an awful lot of Deja Vu about it.
Overall a good solid album that fills a little xx gap in a listener’s heart… for now.
*** 3 Stars
Wild Nothing’s Nocturne, follow up to 2010’s heart-stoppingly good “Gemini” arrives on August 28th. Far more than a beacon of light in the indie scene, Wild Nothing adds something more to their “Dream Pop” title. There is a very big contrast between the pace and tone of this record and 2010’s Gemini. So a step forward or back?
The record commences with the first track made available earlier this year; “Shadow”. This song is perfectly enjoyed on the way to the beach, surfboard in one hand, sun cream in the other to avoid burning those freckles. It flows well with the strings fading in and out. The strings add something not heard before by such a genre, but it works, very chilled and precisely punchy.
“Midnight Song” starts with a drum machine opening but the guitars are more of a nod to their first album. The lyrics are there in the background but it’s the guitars that are unmistakably Wild Nothing. Next up is title track “Nocturne”. The guitar tone is so 80’s and it sounds great! Merging echoing delayed guitars and repeated lyrics. It does reiterate a little too much though.
“Through the Glass” has brought us into the 90’s and even includes some acoustic guitar. However the song doesn’t know what it wants to be, too many genres mashed into one Playdough shape, but not a good one. If Wild Nothing were a shape it would be a parallelogram, but in this case it’s a squashed dodecahedron.
“Only Heather” is a radio friendly pop song. Stepping up the pace and adding a love song element, the lyrics are very cringe and clichéd! “The Chain Won’t Break” uses a synthesizer and brushed guitars. Not much variation from the drumming. This song shines, but the Verse, Bridge, Verse, Bridge, Chorus is a little warring this time around.
“Disappear Always” is almost intermission music for a Thearter event. It’s very easy to listen to, but there is no punch that came from before. The production is very polished but there’s no edge to it. “Paradise” on the other hand is back to the 80’s and taking sounds from “Tears for Fears” Great intro, but the song goes on for too long. Sounds good on a few cocktails.
“Counting Days” is not great to listen to, whiny lyrics and a horrible xylophone and airy synths, which could feel at home on a “Toto” track. Its all so banal at this point. They almost try to emulate “Fleetwood Mac” with “The Blue Dress” but it doesn’t match. I preferred the original sound they had, this sound they have fades too much into the background.
The record comes to a close with “Rheya” A full out synth reflux. The lyrics are clearer but the content is too simple and makes you reaching for the stop button. It’s a disappointing end to an album, which could have delivered, but fell at the final hurdle. Wild Nothing have taken a step in a different direction, and in the process stepped back from a great sound and energy. There’s always album three, but that could be full out Radio 1 dribble by then. Nevermind eh.
*** Three Stars
“Wild Nothing - Nocturne” Tracklist:
2. Midnight Song
4. Through the Glass
5. Only Heather
6. This Chain Won’t Break
7. Disappear Always
9. Counting Days
10. The Blue Dress
It has been a long wait for any new xx material, but here it is. After opening the world to hipsters and winning a mercury music prize, embarking on a world tour and Jamie xx deciding to remix everything under the sun, the track Angels starts exquisitely. You have to hand it to them; the guitar tone is a perfectly delicious eargasm. However it soon goes down hill from there.
The word boring comes to mind, because there is nothing new about this, nothing that hasn’t been imitated since their debut album xx. The lyrics suggest Romy Madley Croft has fallen in love but everyone else has probably fallen out of love with the xx and moved on.
Expect “Angels” to be used on every indie advert from now on. Shame, the debut album was perfect, only a different direction could have saved them from the second album syndrome. But we can wait for the album, lets just hope the rest is different.