Un­tamed solo ther­apy

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE ’N’ LOUD -

THERE are mo­ments in Tame Im­pala songs that sound as if ev­ery in­stru­ment is wo­ven to­gether, puls­ing as one. The syn­ergy of gui­tars, keys, bass and drums, all ac­com­pa­nied by hazy Len­non-es­que vo­cals, is the work of Perth vi­sion­ary, Kevin Parker.

For a shy song­writer who grew up in self-im­posed so­cial ex­ile, Parker put his soul on the line for Tame Im­pala’s sec­ond al­bum, Loner­ism.

De­spite it be­ing a record of up­lift­ing psychedelia, there is no mis­tak­ing the des­o­la­tion in lyrics such as ‘‘I’m so alone, noth­ing for me, I guess I’ll go home, try to be safe’’ – from one of the al­bum’s stand-out tracks, Why Won’t They Talk To Me?

For Parker, the mak­ing of Loner­ism was a ther­a­peu­tic way of exorcising some demons.

‘‘I be­came ob­sessed with the idea of ex­pos­ing my in­ner self and from the first words it felt very lib­er­at­ing,’’ Parker says.

‘‘This al­bum was all about shed­ding my doubts and in­se­cu­ri­ties and fac­ing up to the fact that I’m a lit­tle so­cially in­ept.’’

The multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist wrote and recorded ev­ery lyric, note and beat at his home stu­dio in Perth.

He mixed the record in New York with pro­ducer Dave Frid­mann, who has worked with two of Parker’s favourite bands – The Flam­ing Lips and MGMT – be­fore pre­sent­ing the record to his band.

De­spite the crit­i­cal ac­claim of Tame Im­pala’s de­but al­bum In­ner­s­peaker, named al­bum of the year in 2010 by Rolling Stone mag­a­zine, Parker was ner­vous how the fol­low-up would be viewed.

‘‘Some­times you can write a song and you think it’s go­ing to be the next Thriller and then the next day you’ll write the most unim­pact­ful hog­wash,’’ he says.

‘‘There was no pre­dic­tion on how the al­bum would do so I guess I put my ex­pec­ta­tions some­where in the mid­dle.’’

Parker, who pre­vi­ously talked up his loner cre­den­tials in the hit Soli­tude Is Bliss, was un­sure how his bleaker themes would sit with fans.

‘‘I did worry that the al­bum was so self-dep­re­cat­ing that no one would be able to lis­ten to it. It’s not go­ing to make any­one feel good if they can re­late to the words as they’ll just be re­minded of their own is­sues,’’ he says.

Parker need not have wor­ried about his sense of alien­ation catch­ing on. Re­leased last Oc­to­ber, Loner­ism re­ceived rave re­views and be­came the first Aus­tralian al­bum to top NME’s al­bum of the year, while at home it scooped Rolling Stone al­bum of the year and Triple J’s J Award.

Tak­ing its crescen­dos and sun­burst cho­ruses on the road, Tame Im­pala sold out Lon­don’s Brix­ton Acad­emy, daz­zled at last year’s Lol­la­palooza fes­ti­val in Chicago and more re­cently per­formed to 50,000 fans in Mex­ico.

Now back in Aus­tralia, Tame Im­pala are fronting their big­gest head­line shows and en­ter­tain­ing fans at the Groovin The Moo fes­ti­vals, a se­ries of home­com­ing con­certs Parker de­scribes as ‘‘a weird cross be­tween the gigs we used to play and the ones we’re now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing on a much big­ger scale’’, be­fore an­other tour to the US and Europe.

Look­ing ahead, Parker has sev­eral pos­si­ble di­rec­tions for a third Tame Im­pala al­bum (and as such will not rush back in the stu­dio).

For now the 27-year-old is en­joy­ing the ca­ma­raderie of be­ing in a tour­ing five-piece, an en­vi­ron­ment which is eas­ing his sense of iso­la­tion – un­til the next record at least.

‘‘I like the freedom to take an idea to its most ex­treme and I can only do that on my own,’’ Parker says. ‘‘It’s like jam­ming with your­self. It’s all one brain.’’

– ROSS PUR­DIE

Tame Im­pala are fronting their big­gest-ever head­line shows to pro­mote new al­bum, Loner­ism.

Loner­ism is out now. Tame Im­pala and Midnight Jug­ger­nauts play the Bris­bane Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre on Wed­nes­day.

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