Tame Impala: Lonerism (2012)
Problemas de crecimiento
Intentar decir algo nuevo del segundo disco de Tame Impala, el cuasi unipersonal proyecto de Kevin Parker, es casi más que una obviedad, algo redundante. No obstante, me gustaría ofreceros mi personal punto de vista sobre Lonerism, este “sophomore album”, como dirían los anglosajones.
No es un disco que en absoluto me desagrade, huelga decirlo: sus huellas sonoras son evidentemente de mi agrado (Psicodelia, Rock Sinfónico, Rock Progresivo…) y muchas de ellas son agua de las que bebemos constantemente bien para inspirarnos bien por puro placer.
Lo que sí que me epata profundamente es que a Parker se le ha ido la mano descaradamente con la idea de superarse a sí mismo, y a aquel primer álbum de Tame Impala: Innerspeaker (2010). Evidentemente, el intento es más que loable; sería absurdo no esperar una evolución de un grupo como éste, máxime cuando su líder es un personaje altamente creativo. Lo que no entiendo tanto es esa obsesión por abigarrar sus temas, por dotarles de capas y capas de teclados, de arreglos, de distorsiones inesperadas, florituras, algunas (a mí entender, y sé que seré criticado) superfluas. Una cosa es clara: ningún tema suena demasiado parecido al anterior, y desde luego, el esfuerzo creativo y sonoro es tremendo. Pero considero que las canciones no tienen el poso de las de su anterior entrega, que se erigía como un auténtico disco de Pop-Psicodélico. Lonerism peca algo de intentar ser una magna ópera Pop de rasgos Psicodélicos, y por qué no decirlo, cierta megalomanía. Parker, desde luego, ha echado mano de su colección de discos y encontraría los vinilos de gentes The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Todd Rundgren, Robert Fripp, Led Zeppelin, Mercury Rev u Olivia Tremor Control.
Como dije anteriormente, seguro que la mayoría de vosotros no estaréis de acuerdo con mis apreciaciones y consideraréis a Lonerism como uno de los mejores discos de 2012. No estaréis desencaminados. Lonerism es un grandísimo disco, pero el gigante le ha crecido demasiado y demasiado rápidamente a Kevin.
“If their debut was any indication, Tame Impala‘s second full-length, Lonerism, will once again be compared to albums from the late 1960s and early 70s. But if their intent was to make a record that sounds like it came from that era, they’ve failed and ended up with something more fascinating. Sure, there’s merit to the countless groups and scenes that seek out the right tube amps and compressors and microphones in order to create flawless period pieces. They’re often called “revivalists,” even though the actual term is wasted on them. Are they really breathing new life into this form by keeping it cryogenically frozen in ideas nearly a half-century old? Tame Impala prove far more exciting because, by maximizing the use of the available technology, they tap into the progressive and experimental spirit of psychedelic rock, and not just the sound.
Tame Impala did something similar on 2010′s Innerspeaker, and they might be open to “Same Impala”-type jokes if the expanse of psychedelic rock were something you’d be expected to move on from after one record. Lonerism does make the kind of tune-ups that typically generate a lot of second LP plaudits: It’s leaner, more propulsive, more confident, and less beholden to its influences. But Lonerism’s genius manifests itself in Tame Impala’s ability to figure out a way to integrate the concepts of electronic music-making without resorting to ripping off the breakbeat/Beatles template of “Setting Sun”.
Leader Kevin Parker doesn’t sound like an electronic producer, he just thinks like one. He sees his songs as blank canvases rather than boxed-in verse/chorus structures while emphasizing fluidity, constant motion, and textural evolution. You could spend the entirety of opener “Be Above It” letting your ears luxuriate in the diversity of tactile sensations– the subliminal whisper of the title becomes a rhythm track, a barreling drum break is severely tweaked to sound like an oncoming rush of bison, a flanged guitar wobbles like neon Jello, and Parker’s laconic, slightly echoed vocals pulls the whole thing together. Lonerism could go anywhere from that point, which is confirmed by the majestic song that follows, “Endors Toi”. Follow the regal path of the lead synth or tilt your ears towards the righteously loud drum rolls that sound like masterfully chopped Bonham/Moon samples. I’m reminded of Radiohead’s stated goal on “Airbag”, which was to recreate Endtroducing….. in real time, or what DJ Shadow himself has been trying to do ever since in terms of merging the rarest vinyl grooves with your stony older brother’s record collection.
Those are the first two songs on Lonerism, and it’s bold to lead off with seven minutes of mostly instrumentals. Yet for all of the sonic trickery, Tame Impala are anchored by the righteous aspects of classic rock. They’re throwbacks in the sense that they operate from a pre-punk perspective where each musician has the chops and confidence to be capable of soloing, and the singer and the drummer were cranked loud as hell. Yes, Parker does sound like John Lennon. Many athletes pattern their golf swings after Tiger Woods, their batting stance on Barry Bonds, or stick out their tongue while taking a jump shot like Michael Jordan. It means little if you don’t have the skills to connect and perform.
More important is how Parker writes melodies that are instantly memorable, that rise and fall with beautiful simplicity and give what are fairly basic and relatable sentiments heft. Lonerism lacks a chorus that instantly pops like “Solitude Is Bliss”, which is an issue only if you think the best melodies necessarily need to appear in the middle of the song. You’d be hard-pressed to find hooks as catchy as the verses during the run that spans “Music to Walk Home By” through “Elephant”, and while none initially stands out as the kind of hit that might push Tame Impala to bigger festival stages, the cumulative effect means Lonerism might.
So, the above is all well and good for the people who might use Lonerism to EQ their hi-fis. Does it make you feel anything? On Innerspeaker, Parker sang, “You will never come close to how I feel,” so what’s the emotional component to Lonerism? Though Parker’s lyrics are plainspoken and occasionally a little elusive, Tame Impala’s two records are called Innerspeaker and Lonerism, some of their songs go by titles like “Solitude Is Bliss”, “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?”, “Island Walking”, and “Mind Mischief”. You get the idea of where Parker’s head is at, or more to the point, that Parker’s head is where he’s at.
That’s a fairly common concern in this realm. You think about most of the technophile, prog-rock opuses of recent decades and most sound like spiritual heirs of King Crimson, Pink Floyd, or Black Sabbath; records like Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Kid A, and The Moon & Antarctica tell the listener that their state of being is forced upon them, by shadowy governments, by heartless technology, by an uncaring god. It justifies the headphones-bound quarantine. What distinguishes Tame Impala is how they are able to explore the emotional difference between being alone and being isolated. Jayson Greene described Parker’s voice vividly as “like someone trapped John Lennon’s vocal take from ‘A Day in the Life’ in a jar and taught it to sing new songs.” In terms of a mentality, to me it’s more along the lines of “I’m Only Sleeping”, embodying and advocating a wakeful and passive state of psychedelia.
Lonerism derives much of its philosophical and musical pleasure from this interaction of micro and macro. Tame Impala stack vocal and guitar harmonies on the loveably hungover “Mind Mischief”, and then Parker and co-producer Dave Fridmann take control of the mixing consoles and shake the whole thing up like a snowglobe. A similarly fun trick happens on“Apocalypse Dreams”, which builds the momentum of a bouncy Northern Soul groove up to a peak before the mix abruptly cuts off and spits them back into a panoramic, HD jam.All these rich sounds serve as an alternate take on anticipating technological encroachment, that humanity and technology aren’t necessarily at war. You feel small while listening to Lonerism, but in a way that makes you appreciate how man, machine, and Mother Nature can harmonize. Lonerism is portable and joyous in an unforced way, a soundtrack for the times when you’re walking downtown and look up at a collection of skyscrapers, or driving through a mountain pass on an interstate or even looking at a Ferris wheel next to an ocean thinking, “Holy shit, how did this all get here?” (pitchfork.com)
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