An epiphany brought the world “Currents” from Australian multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, 34. “The Slow Rush” is a continuation in the direction of genre-bending pop music.
This epiphany described by Parker occurred in Los Angeles while he was high on cocaine and shrooms; he realized how incredible the Bee Gees sounded in a technical and emotional sense.
The cocktail of psychedelics and the Bee Gees granted Parker a massive and well-deserved hit album “Currents,” which peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Top 200 lists in 2015, was nominated for a Grammy and the lead hit single “The Less I Know The Better” has racked up nearly half a billion listens on Spotify. “Currents” pushed the indie darling into the spotlight and established Parker as the frontman in one of this generation’s most loved rock bands.
Five years later, the group is back with a new album. The dust has settled, the party's over, everyone has gone home, can he sustain the hit-making momentum he achieved on “Currents”?
Astonishingly, yes. Parker flexes every one of his music muscles. The album lacks guitars and distortion but in its place is something more exciting, a masterful record bearing selective and electronic elements.
“The Slow Rush” is a detailed opus that picks and chooses its musical influences from R&B and Disco to acid house and 90s boom-bap hip-hop. Parker is behind all of it ― twisting each knob and arranging every drum pattern.
In the interim between albums, Parker worked with hip-hop powerhouses like Kanye West and Travis Scott. The way these hip-hop producers combine genres under one roof seemed to influence the way Parker puts his songs together on “The Slow Rush.” Parker has no need to sample others; he creates sounds others want to sample. “Currents” hit single “Let It Happen” features iconic self-samples, but the technique is much more prominent on “The Slow Rush.”
“The Slow Rush” is a transitional album but one of dissatisfaction and fickle fame. In the single, “It Might Be Time,” Parker laments on his unfulfillment with his level of fame and the existential worry it carries: “It might be time to face it/It ain't as fun as it used to be, no/ … You ain't as young as you used to be/It might be time to face it/You ain't as cool as you used to be, no.”
“One More Year” is the album’s moody opener, and it sets the tone of the record from the beginning of its echo-soaked vocals. As a steady beat and glitchy loops establishes itself, Parker wonders about his connection to the places outside his studio and outside his own head: “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 had a care, it didn’t show.”
Lead single “Borderline” is a pop hit all about his newfound life deep in the trenches of the Los Angeles music scene. “There I go/Quite a show for a loner in LA/Askin' how I managed to end up in this place/And I couldn't get away.”
In an album of multi-part epics, some sections are bound to feel uneventful and disappointing. “Lost in Yesterday” feels dated with its Daft Punk vocals and dub effects; songs like “Tomorrow’s Dust” and “Posthumous Forgiveness” go on for a verse too long.
If “Currents” is Parker’s breakup album, “The Slow Rush” follows his marriage. Recurring themes on the album are the passage of time, dissatisfaction with celebrity life and the death of his father. “Posthumous Forgiveness” pulls apart his troubled relationship with his father using heartbreaking candor and a small child’s excitement “I wish I could tell you about the time I had Mick Jagger on the phone.”
“The Slow Rush” is a record that will lead listeners to dance with tears in their eyes.
Contact Christopher S. Cann at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @chrstophercann
Tame Impala's fourth album, "The Slow Rush," ruminates on the passage of time, Parker's disillusionment with his newfound fame and his troubled relationship with his late father.