With “The Slow Rush,” Tame Impala finally reaches the endpoint of the direction his sound has been headed over the past decade. Although many tracks end up treading similar ground as a result, the cohesiveness, moodiness and pure danceability of the album keep you listening the whole way through.
The opening tracks give a good sense as to what is to come. The album is about the looping nature of time, and this is realized on tracks like the opener. “One More Year” speaks of living through the same experiences again and again over a haunting, pounding track.
Tracks like “Posthumous Forgiveness,” “Tomorrow’s Dust,” “Lost in Yesterday” and “It Might Be Time” reiterate this. They all allude to regret for the past, for choices made and not made. Other tracks take a more hopeful stance — take “On Track” as an example, in which Kevin Parker sings about appreciating making progress.
Through it all, though, the album is about reflecting on time spent and lost. It says as much, sure, but more importantly it sounds like it. Rhythmic beats underpin most of the songs, marking time through the slower and faster tracks alike. Outros to multiple songs sound as if they are being played on a radio in a dream, reminiscing on days that have never been. Little melodies drift in and out like nostalgia.
What really adds to this effect is the level of detail Parker took on each song. There are so many little two-second bits that are total earworms. It was hard to get through the album the first time because I wanted to rewind so much to hear those clips again. The best examples of this are “Borderline” and “Breathe Deeper,” both essential album highlights. On each of these songs, you are constantly grooving to the driving beat, but listening a bit deeper gives so much more. Little synth lines pop up, or the bass comes out for just a second. Things like that really add to the listening experience.
The whole album sounds simultaneously moody and sunny. Even more paradoxically, all of these sounds make you want to move. Piano riffs, basslines and drum loops dig into your ear to nest. When you’re listening to tracks like “Is It True,” you want to dance. When you listen to “It Might Be Time,” you bob your head to the beat. Hours or even days later, you may still be thinking about the tunes you’ve heard.
This is a double-edged sword for the album, though: At times, it ends up washing together into one big song. This feels intentional at times, like in “Posthumous Forgiveness” into “Breathe Deeper,” which feels really satisfying to listen to. At other times, though, it speaks to the retreading of too much similar ground. This is a more complete take on many of the sounds Tame Impala was developing in his last album. I mean that as both a compliment and a criticism.
At the end of the day, though, it’s hard to complain about too much of a good thing. While it may be old news, it’s still really good. If you liked the singles that were dropped throughout 2019 or “Currents,” you will like this album a lot. If you weren’t feeling those, it’s unlikely there will be anything different enough here to grab you.
Peter Fenteany is the associate opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.