On the heels of Skyscraper’s relaunch, we’ll be reviewing a number of records from mid-to-late 2010 that we missed out on covering during our semi-hiatus. Sort of a “what we missed” series of reviews, emphasizing both some of the best releases of 2010 and some of the year’s most interesting but overlooked. This is one of those.
When Swiss chemist Albert Hofman took the first hit of his newly synthesized drug, lysergic acid diethylamide, he could scarcely have imagined the impact it would have on popular culture. In the late 1960s, LSD dragged Britain and America out of a post-war monochrome and into a Technicolor age of new artistic possibilities. From Liverpool to Los Angeles, musicians began to recreate the woozy sound of their acid trips with extended instrumental jams, over-driven amps, and effects pedals. Pop grew up to become rock and anything, it seemed, was possible.
Channeling this golden age of psychedelia, Australian four-piece Tame Impala deliver a fine homage to Haight-Ashbury with their debut album Innerspeaker. In true stoner rock form, the band’s confessed to having little ambition to play their music outside a close circle of friends. That didn’t stop in-the-know Aussie indie imprint Modular from snapping them up, however. When the ensemble signed to the label in 2008, the band had no MySpace friends, one song in the player, and no self-released material. Three years on, Tame Impala’s self-produced debut has reinvigorated the antipodean Australian acid-rock scene in the wake of uninspiring 1970s copyists Jet and Wolfmother.
Fizzling with energy, Innerspeaker opens with queasy phased guitars sliding effortlessly over a snakelike Paul McCartney-esque bass line, soon giving way to hard-riffing pysch in the form of the explosive “Desire Be Desire Go.” “Alter Ego,” a tripped-out slice of sugary space-pop, recalls Lennon at his highest before “Lucidity” explodes in a fuzz-bomb of Jimmy Page power chords and Jerry Garcia solos. Lifting the riff from Hendrix’ 1967 classic “Manic Depression,” “Island Walking” is a bruising blues-waltz eventually morphing into a chilled out instrumental reminiscent of early Fleetwood Mac.
Album closer “I Don’t Really Mind” is an awesome exploration of the band’s substance-fueled vision. A séance for the ghosts of Syd Barrett, Lennon, Hendrix, and John Bonham, it’s a blurred vision of retro-modernity sounding like a long-lost garage rock classic while remaining utterly contemporary. Few current bands, Sacramento’s Ganglians aside, have made psychedelia sound so up-to-date. But if John and Paul had handed over the bus’ keys to George, Innerspeaker is the kind of taut acid-rock album the Fab Four would have made.Visit: Tame Impala | Modular
Purchase: Insound | eMusic