Tame Impala’s 2020 studio album ‘The Slow Rush’ was released a year ago yesterday, and the year since its release has seen the album gain an extortionate amount of added meaning due to Coronavirus. ‘The Slow Rush’ was released a month before the U.K. and the rest of the world were going into total lockdown. Meanwhile, an overarching theme of the album is the passage of time, and ‘The Slow Rush’ certainly helped during one of the most strenuous passages of time that we can remember in recent history. But before getting into the new meaning that the album has attained over the period of the past year, it is necessary to provide some background as to why Kevin Parker created ‘The Slow Rush’, and the inspiration behind it.
‘The Slow Rush’ is an album that sees Tame Impala ditch their guitars and turn to super catchy psychedelic 80s style synths and mega-pop songwriting. The inspiration for the album came around when Kevin Parker was driving around Los Angeles, high on both cocaine and mushrooms listening to the Bee Gees, thinking how incredible they sounded both emotionally and technically. Once you notice the Bee Gees influence, it is easy to spot how this sound has manifested itself into ‘The Slow Rush’.
Kevin Parker and the success of ‘The Slow Rush’ saw a list of celebrities from the likes of A$AP Rocky, all the way to Lady Gaga, confess their love for the alt-rock superstar group. Whilst the album also saw Parker pronounced as the saviour of mainstream rock, a title which he personally found rather uncomfortable. Speaking to Billboard, he made it clear his ambitions lay in the pop battlefield, as he stated: “writing a catchy, sugary pop song is the yin to the yang of psychedelic rock.”
However, whilst the album was a huge hit when released on the 14th February 2020, the album has obtained more meaning than Parker could have ever possibly imagined. Kevin Parker has always stated that his preference is to be isolated and alone, but perhaps not to this extent. He sings in the hit single ‘Borderline’: “There I go / Quite a show for a loner in L.A. / Askin’ how I managed to end up in this place / And I couldn’t get away.” well now he really couldn’t get away. But perhaps the song that resonates most with these times is the single ‘One More Year’, not just because at that time, we would have no idea the pandemic would stretch out for another year, but because of how heavy the lyrics resonate with the times. They read:
“Do you remember we were standing here a year ago / Our minds were racing and time went slow / If there was trouble in the world we didn’t know / If we ever cared we didn’t show.”
Musical theorist Dan Laughey once explained that music is very often a product of its time. It acts as both a reflection of the ‘here and now’ and a ‘recaller’ of memories. In this instance, the statement is entirely accurate. Kevin Parker created an album reminiscing on his upbringing and life in L.A, but in return provided us with a sensational album that would become the soundtrack to a global crisis, before it had even happened. What a genius.