On Aural Familiarity And Tame Impala’s ‘Lonerism’

Recently, Australian psych rockers Tame Impala released their sophomore album Lonerism and it struck a chord within me that I’ve been struggling to place ever since. While psych rock is generally based in a sort of 1960’s/70’s nostalgia, but Lonerism sounds decidedly new and fresh, far flung from the original freaks. I’m no psychologist (that’s Madeline’s forte), but when I listen to Lonerism, I feel an intense sense of familiarity, not like I’ve heard the album many times before, but as if I associate it with an indescribably calm mental state.

From an objective standpoint, Lonerism hits all the marks of a great album. It’s indebted to the past, but ignores outdated song structure. Its bubblegum sweet choruses are juxtaposed with buzzing guitar solos, all done with an impressive technical ability. Kevin Parker’s lyrics are suitably weird without falling into obsessive minutiae. Parker’s background as an engineering student is apparent throughout Lonerism and the band’s attention to detail and maturation from their debut is palpable.

I still can’t place the feeling of familiarity though. A number of hyperbolic comparisons come to mind, but that doesn’t really help. It’s not like Lonerism is homely, because it reformats the boundaries of rock music as Tame Impala see them. It’s an unsettling, ye weirdly satisfactory emotional response to have to an album and one that has kept (and will keep) songs like “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and “Endors Toi” in rotation for weeks. I highly recommend Lonerism to anyone with that prickly sensation at the base of their cerebral cortex that you just can’t place.

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