Whether it's Bradford Cox with Deerhunter, or Dan Snaith with Caribou, or Kevin Parker with Tame Impala, there must be something with this trend in sonic auteurs with cervine band names. Perhaps it's an unconscious nod to the '60s Beatles/Byrds axis of stylish, mind-expanding, nature-loving, drug-influenced pop music. Or perhaps there is a suggestion that music, much like Mother Nature herself, has a certain mysterious, sacred aspect that shouldn't be completely quashed by modernity.
Parker spent the past two years of his life in his hometown of Perth, Australia, creating Lonerism (Modular Recordings) in a bedroom studio, the second record released under the Tame Impala moniker and so far the best. Underneath the moody, harmony-rich guitars and keys that swirl around in his UK-psychedelia-influenced sound, fans of Parker's music also can't help but notice the unorthodox rhythms of Tame Impala's drums. Played by the untrained Parker himself, Lonerism's beats are rife with Keith Moon-like mid-measure fills, rolling more than rocking as they cascade from song to song, like waterfall on top of waterfall. "I'll do a whole song on bass, guitar, and keys, and then just flail about for a few takes until I get something that I like," he says. "[Drums] are just like any other instrument. You can't fake expression with them."
In a climate where even a lot of so-called psychedelic music is starting to sound the same, the boutique sonic details of Lonerism are reassuring. Sounds are filtered through the same prism of effects-processing, compression, and EQ that other similar artists are using, but with unusual results. The album has the playful sonic experimentation of early Pink Floyd and the pronounced, immaculate layering of ELO. It also has the primitive, take-it-easy cool of T. Rex (on "Elephant") and the mournful melodicism of the pre-disco Bee Gees ("Feel Like We Only Go Backwards"). It all adds up to something Parker refers to nicely as "psychedelic soul" — where you get not only the fantastical trimmings, but also old-fashioned melodies underneath.
The rubber meets the road on Lonerism's opening track, "Be Above It" — the one song on the album that Parker recorded while living in France. A mantra-like song written to fortify his own perseverance, "Be Above It" is also Lonerism's sole track based on a drum machine, not necessarily because it sounded good, but because, as he explains, "You can't play drums in an apartment in Paris. You really can't." And what at first sounds like a loop of Parker saying "gotta be above it" sampled over the track is, according to the singer, really him saying it over and over again. An imitation of a tape loop? Imagine that. Sometimes nature imitates culture.
TAME IMPALA + THE GROWL :: House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston :: March 12 :: 7 pm :: All Ages :: $20 to $35 :: 888.693.2583 or hob.com/boston