#2. Tame Impala: Currents

#2. Tame Impala: Currents

One of the most critically acclaimed rock bands of the last five years, Tame Impala uphold their unimpeachable legacy on Currents. On it, frontman and unofficial John Lennon impersonator Kevin Parker trades the guitar-heavy rock of his band’s previous albums for a dreamier psychedelic soundscape that relies primarily on synthesizers. It’s a bold move for a band that has so far only released critical successes but it pays off. Even when changing their sound, Tame Impala consistently craft great music.

Currents begins with the daring “Let it Happen,” which immediately establishes whirling, jagged synths as the main ingredient. It’s a nearly eight-minute, spaced-out rock opus about allowing oneself to be lost in the current of events that are beyond control. “When it happens,” Parker sings, “I won’t be holding on / so let it happen.” As if to reflect the notion of uncontrollable events meddling with our lives, Parker cleverly simulates audio skips smack in the middle of the song’s huge instrumental breakdown. They begin spaced apart, but gradually take over the direction of the song and cause the breakdown to stagnant over a single repeated beat. Eventually, strings sweep the music up and carry it downstream.

The closest thing to a good old electric guitar jam on Currents is “The Less I Know the Better.” A standout on the album, it pairs one of the band’s grooviest riffs with mournful lyrics about unreciprocated love. But even with its catchy electric guitar, the song leans closer to disco than rock. “’Cause I’m a Man” continues the theme of lost love, with Parker blaming his testosterone for ruining his relationship. Deceptively upbeat synths lope along as he sings about his “fuck-ups” and making his lover cry, explaining the breakup by singing “I’m just pathetic, that’s the reason why.” The track plays like a power ballad doped up on psychotropic drugs.

Currents is the trippiest Tame Impala album to date. Kevin Parker continues his recurring themes of solitude and “lonerism,” but here he broadcasts his woes within a much dreamier landscape. The result is a colorful album that, while melancholy, is also the band’s most emotionally powerful project yet.

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#3. Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

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