Tame Impala’s Lonerism is a tribute to solitude that shows the remarkably expansive nature of a single mind. Kevin Parker, the Australian psych-rock outfit’s main man, recorded the bulk of the album by himself in Paris, isolated by the language barrier. The change of environment primarily leaves its mark in the song title “Endors-Toi,” if anyone was worried that the French aesthetic might lead Parker to clean up his fuzzed-out guitars. Lonerism follows up the band’s 2010 acclaimed debut, Innerspeaker, with a clearly maintained voice that’s perhaps in a more thoughtful place.
“Be Above It” provides a bold introduction to the second chapter of Tame Impala, muffling Parker’s vocals under a riff that sounds bigger than anything on Innerspeaker. It sets the tone for an album that follows closely in the sonic footsteps of its predecessor while occupying a more streamlined headspace.
“Music To Walk Home By”—possibly one of the best song titles of the year—sees some of the rough edges smoothed out, but it builds to the kind of soaring haze that fulfills the promise of its title. This is, after all, a record called Lonerism. It’s certainly evocative, the image of walking home alone at night implying either fear or blissful contemplation; the song veers toward the latter.
The fuzz is out in full force on “Keep On Lying,” the most loosely structured track. It’s followed by lead single “Elephant,” which is buried deeper than expected in the album. Its chugging, taut rhythm tightens up the flow of the album and assumes control. The heaviest-sounding song on the album, “Elephant” serves as an anchor.
“Mind Mischief” is just as immersing as “Desire Be, Desire Go” from Innerspeaker, and it sounds more and more like brain waves upon repeated listens. “I just don’t know where the hell I belong,” Parker questions, and it sounds like he’s created his own world in response. His universe consists of blissed-out guitars, reverb-drenched vocals, even muffled piano on “Apocalypse Dreams” and “Keep On Lying.”
This is a record that washes over the ears, representing the kind of introversion that’s safe in the knowledge of oneself but still seeking a place to fit in. That’s Lonerism defined.