Five years is a long time to wait. But that’s how long it’s been for Tame Impala fans, who have been anticipating the release of The Slow Rush since 2015. With hits like “The Less I Know The Better” and “Let It Happen,” Tame Impala has launched into mainstream fame, working with pop acts like Lady Gaga and Kanye West. This popularity has only ascended as he headlined Coachella in 2019. This influence of pop is evident in The Slow Rush.
Diverging from his psychedelic and funk rock base, The Slow Rush ushers in a new era of Tame Impala music, one with a clear emphasis on synth wave beats and psych pop. Currents, the album that made him mainstream, begins this transition by featuring a prominent bass line and the introduction into electronic ambient music. The evolution from Inner Speaker and Lonerism to The Slow Rush is clear: Tame Impala reflects on the past, but is ready to move forward.
Throughout The Slow Rush, there are clear divisions of parts in the songs, which tie in the album’s main themes of nostalgia of the past, differences between the past and future, and a fear of change. This is evident in the beginning tracks “One More Year” and “Instant Destiny.” Both note a fear of change, which can pertain to his transition from psych rock to synth pop and his recent marriage in 2019. The use of Gregorian chants in the beginning is an odd start, but these are able to portray the feeling of uncertainty and change from the usual and set up the next song which presents his new feeling of spontaneity with his wife. His previous feelings of loneliness in prior albums are riveted by his big transition to get married, similar to the larger transition of musicality in this album.
“Borderline” is noticeably different on this album than its single version, with Parker calling it Borderline 2.0. On the album it features more synth effects, but still is as catchy as the original. Another pre released single, “Posthumous Forgiveness” is the first song on the album to noticeably feature two parts: the first half calling back on past albums by integrating a bass line dripping with funk, while the second half calls to the present day pop. Clearly the most emotional and vulnerable track, it depicts Parker’s unsteady relationship with his estranged dead father, who he yearns to have a conversation with once more.
The following songs on the album solidify the new Tame Impala. “Breathe Deeper” being the most pop track on the album, “Tomorrow’s Dust” and “On Track” further this pop influence, bringing in a more mellow vibe. Both focus on past accomplishments and failures, but with the acknowledgment of change and growth for the present and future. The nearly minute long instrumental outro of “Tomorrow’s Dust” features people faintly talking in the background, while the bass line of “Breathe Deeper” is underlied, referencing Parker’s upset over Tame Impala’s music being played only as background club music, rather than the actual dance music.
As another song pre released, “Lost in Yesterday” starts off with a techno beat. This track cements Parker’s transformation into popwave and dreamwave. The theme of nostalgia and the past returns in this song, as Parker tells the listener to leave bad feelings in yesterday, continuing with the trend of leaving the past in the past and looking at the future.
“Is It True” and “It Might Be Time” show the clear path Tame Impala has evolved to, absence of electric guitar and focus on a drum techno beat and synthpop. Oddly enough, saxophone is placed in the former, but works well with the overall genre presented in The Slow Rush as the saxophone is not obvious, but diluted and provides a component of the electronic music backing the song. Presenting an insider look to inner paranoia and fear of change, these tracks explain how relationships grow old and the effects it has on a person.
“Glimmer” is the shortest song on the album, beginning with a soundbite about bass. This song works more as an interlude than an actual song, setting up the ending power ballad “One More Hour.” Clearly reminiscent of sounds from the first Tame Impala albums, there is a heavier feel to this song, with electric guitar and prominent piano. The pops of chords from the piano level the song with others on the album, not varying far from the deviation of synth.
With “One More Year” to start and “One More Hour” to round it off, The Slow Rush as a whole displays time in a way not shown in previous albums. Reassuring fans that the old Tame Impala is still there, the album deviates from the past rock motifs and points toward the new direction of synthwave pop. Like it or not, the new Tame Impala is here to stay.