Review: Tame Impala’s “The Slow Rush”

After five years in the making, Kevin Parker took a different approach with his latest offering.

by Meg Bishop

Walking through sand is how it feels to listen to Tame Impala’s newest offering, “The Slow Rush.” 

The Aussie master of trippy rock, frontman and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker released his fourth album on Valentine’s Day. The album’s cover art — a sunny room filled halfway to the ceiling with sand — sets the tone for “The Slow Rush,” an experience that brings listeners through a psychedelic trance in time. 

Parker swerved from Tame Impala’s usual sound by taking a more ambient approach. The entire album feels warm — as if it’s summer and you’re in a minivan on a road trip, with the window down, wearing your favorite sunglasses and looking at yourself in the side-view mirror. 

Kevin Parker took a five-year-long hiatus to work on this album and tour the world. “The Slow Rush” is a trip. To where? We don’t know and honestly can’t tell if Parker knows either. But wherever Parker went, he ventured to the root of deep contemplation. 

“Borderline,” “It Might Be Time,” “Posthumous Forgiveness” and “Lost In Yesterday” were the first four tracks released to the public before the full project came out. They’re also the best tracks of the album, encompassing Parker’s self-exploration journey. 

“The Slow Rush” begins by giving listeners what could be seen as two slower “warm-up” songs leading to the main tracks of the album. The album begins to pick up the pace in true Tame Impala fashion with “Borderline,” a single which dropped back in April of last year and delivers the timeless ambiance and grooves that Tame Impala fans have grown to expect from the artist. 

The album then delves into ‘70s funk with “Breathe Deeper,” featuring jumping drum beats, electric piano melodies and a mash of instrumental jumble. Parker throws down “Lost in Yesterday” mid-album — conjuring up nostalgia and tying together a concept of lost time with lost memories.

None of the songs are as explicitly about love as those from previous Tame Impala albums, perhaps a nod to newfound romantic stability (Parker married his longtime girlfriend Sophie Lawrence in February 2019). But that doesn’t mean Parker has stopped reflecting. The lyrics in “It Might Be Time” could have been lifted straight out of Parker’s personal diary. (“I’ve been lost before / So tell me it’s not over / ‘Cause I finally got somethin’ goin’ / And suddenly / All my friends are growin’ up / And movin’ on / I must be missin’ somethin’,” he croons.) 

Considering the five-year gap between Tame Impala’s last album release, Parker has clearly used the time to reflect on life and build a wider musical repertoire. This album may not be as catchy as Tame Impala’s pivotal 2015 album “Currents,” but it’s just as deep. “The Slow Rush” proves that the same instrumental elements used to create Tame Impala’s signature sound can evolve into another standout album set in a completely different tone. 

Rating: B-