Illustration from Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, April 1971
I know that I'm not being particularly relevant or current in writing about a not-so-new release six full months after it got a "Best New Music" rave from Pitchfork, but it's taken me a while to get my hands on a copy of Innerspeaker. Tame Impala, being an Australian psych-rock band, sensibly released the album in their native country/continent first, and the import version was pretty expensive here in the US. Then a cheaper US release that was talked about for June never materialized, so I ended up ordering the cheapest CD version I could find online. I'm glad I did, though, because this album really lives up to its initial (and continuing) buzz.
Comparing Innerspeaker to the work of Swedish retro/psychedelic rockers Dungen is appropriate but not particularly helpful - if you're a Dungen fan, you probably already have Innerspeaker. But if you aren't familiar with Dungen, then here's a way to make the comparison useful and flattering - imagine the best psych-rock band that's out there today, and then imagine if you replaced that band's Swedish-speaking lead singer with a Magical-Mystery-Tour-era John Lennon. Tame Impala find a good balance between epic guitar adventures, effects-heavy psychedelia, and immediate pop hooks. They sound like a really tight combo with an excellent rhythm section, which is why I was very surprised to read this in the liner notes: "All vocals and instruments by Kevin Parker except..." - apparently, Tame Impala's frontman Kevin Parker more or less recorded this album by himself. That's pretty impressive.
At 11 tracks, Innerspeaker is just the right length to hit all the buttons it needs to, with a requisite extended epic track ("Runway, Houses, Cities, Clouds"), a decent instrumental to let the guitars take center stage for a minute ("Jeremy's Storm"), and nine really accessible, poppy psych-rock tracks with great phased-into-oblivion vocal melodies. "Lucidity" is not the clear standout track on the album (the album is too consistent to have one), but it shows one of the approaches Tame Impala is good at - skipping the intro part entirely, the song immediately introduces a lazily-delivered verse and a clanging, reverb-heavy guitar line. After a fuzzy guitar break, the blissed-out chorus comes and washes over you in waves. Wash, rinse, repeat.
"Lucidity" by Tame Impala