LONERISM turned out to be a fitting title for Tame Impala's second record. Kevin Parker—the space cadet running the good ship Impala—recorded the entire album himself at his home studio in Perth, Australia, left to his own devices. It isn't a sparse bedroom project, either, which makes this particular space odyssey all the more impressive.
Tame Impala may sound otherworldly to some; at the very least, they don't sound like anything that's come out of Australia in the past few decades. There is zero trace of the Saints' R&B punk, AC/DC's arena stomp, or Wolfmother's Zep-meets-Sab heavy blues. But you will hear other influences—everything from pre-disco the Bee Gees to mid-'70s ELO—which are sprinkled throughout Lonerism at just the right times and in just the right places.
If anything, Parker reminds me of another brilliant loner: Gustav Ejstes, who fronts the Swedish psych band Dungen. Both artists sound so immediately captivating and familiar that you have to listen again to make sure they aren't simply cribbing from the past. But in the end, they've managed to make the old sound new again.
Parker has said that he keeps his mass of instruments and recording equipment within arm's reach, so he can immediately get something down when inspiration strikes. So what you're hearing are very much the songs floating around Parker's head. First single "Elephant" has that sense of immediacy, with a simple, fuzzy groove that could pair well with any number of psychedelics. And "Mind Mischief" is aptly named, phase-shifting its way through your gray matter.
Lonerism's title goes beyond the recording process. Themes of loneliness permeate the record, and Parker's hometown of Perth—on the western coast of Australia—is one of the most remote cities on Earth. Tracking down Parker for an interview proved difficult as well. Even the band's publicist hadn't heard from him in about a week.
By most accounts, Parker is always working. He began recording Lonerism practically the day he finished Tame Impala's debut Innerspeaker, both released on Modular Recordings. For Lonerism, Parker sought some outside help in Mercury Rev's Dave Fridmann, who's worked with the Flaming Lips and produced Sleater-Kinney's bombastic The Woods. It's an exciting voyage. And it's a safe bet we'll get a sequel sooner than we think.