It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why the autumn is so beautifully bittersweet. Perhaps it’s the obvious shift in climate, the warmth of summer dissipating with a chill signaling the impending winter. Maybe it’s in the foliage, swirls of brows and reds curling underneath your feet in rounds, or the sunlight that wanes earlier and earlier with every progressing day. Regardless, a romanticism surrounds the autumn, reflective from seasonal pumpkin flavored-everything and the momentary thrill that comes from wrapping yourself up in a scarf again.
If Tame Impala’s sparkling debut Innerspeaker reflects the everlasting daylight of the summer, the Australian quartet’s sophomore release Lonerism aptly attaches itself to the austere yet lovely days of autumn. The follow-up retains every shimmer from Innerspeaker while centered more so around a concept, that of “lonerism,” and functions as a complete listen as opposed to singular tracks.
Inevitably it’s up for interpretation, but the concept of lonerism never comes off as a self-pitying identifier. Instead it’s a declaration, an ultimate acceptance of the self -- a word meant to describe those who embrace solitude and the complexities that accompany it. Chief songwriter -- and the arguable reincarnated alter ego of John Lennon -- Kevin Parker lucidly illustrates the varying phases of lonerism with a dazzling tapestry of sounds.
Unusual opener “Be Above It,” mantra-esque with breathy background vocals repeating “gotta be above it” arguably paints a portrait of perfectionism. Segwaying into the lush “Endors Toi,” the gauzy prelude bleeding into the album’s superb single “Apocalypse Dreams.” Here, Tame Impala reaches a pivotal point not only with Lonerism, but for their sound as a whole -- it’s not often that punchy keys and ambient guitars can gloss over a surface sunny disposition so memorably, despite highlighting the doom of the uncertain future.
“Music To Walk Home By” harkens back to the seminal track from the band’s debut “Solitude Is Bliss” with an unmistakable guitar line, grooving vibrations from every pore. The blindingly sunny “Why Won’t They Talk To Me” highlights with a tongue-in-cheek optimism, conjuring images of flower wreath headbands and lying in overgrown meadows for entire afternoons. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” twirls into an acid-stained account of frustration -- but stagnation has never been materialized into such vivid color. Confessional centerpiece “Keep On Lying” pleads a lover to continue a charade, emulated with a heady jam toward the end of the track reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper’s-era Beatles psychedelia.
Despite the astounding pressure to follow up Innerspeaker, Tame Impala has crafted a slightly melancholy but rich follow-up. Like the leaves that coat the ground, Lonerism glitters with alternating, radiant hues of psychedelic sounds, so lustrous and real that you can almost run them tangibly through your hands.
In an era where a resurgence of retro garage sounds tend bleeds into the same distorted, lofi home bedroom recording sound, Tame Impala possesses an uncanny ear for reconstructing psychedelia that spans decades while remaining undeniably present.