Record review: Tame Impala – Currents (2015, LP)

tame impala currents

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who survive, but the ones most responsive to change” is a misquote often attributed to Charles Darwin, and it’s an idea vocalist and songwriter Kevin Parker seems acutely attuned to on Tame Impala’s contender-for-album-of-the-year third LP. Psych-rock has been the name of the game up to now, but would you expect such an accomplished band to trundle out the same smack as before? “They say people never change, but that’s bullshit,” Parker sings defiantly on ‘Yes, I’m Changing’, as guitars make way to more electronic (read: dance and pop) elements than on any TI release thus far, with notable exceptions ‘Eventually’ and the goofy disco-funk of ‘The Less I Know the Better’. His love of ‘90s Michael Jackson shows in ‘Love Paranoia’, while ‘Gossip’ recalls 1998-era Air and ‘Past Life’ gets deep into dreampop territory. There’s no big rock number in the vein of ‘Desire Be Desire Go’ or ‘Elephant’, but the addition of one doesn’t feel like it would be a good idea. In fact, this is the most coherent Tame Impala release yet. These are the times, people: some of the best Australian music is being made right here, right now. Well, in Fremantle, to be precise. Currents is the sound of Parker dropping his guard and embracing everything he loves about great pop music.

For The Brag

Record review: Foster The People – Supermodel (2014, LP)

foster the people supermodel

Californian indie-pop trio Foster The People just about cornered the hipster music market with their 2011 debut Torches. It was a decent album of dance-infused pop tracks and spawned five singles, including the ubiquitous ‘Pumped Up Kicks’; a deceptively dangerous little pop tune that lost its charm after being played incessantly on every radio station in existence. Now it’s time for the so-called difficult second album, and it’s one that frontman Mark Foster has gone on record as saying is closer to his vision of the band’s sound than Torches. “I’m bored of the game, and too tired to rage,” he sings on first single ‘Coming Of Age’, and unfortunately by that early stage, the listener is too; such is the lack of ideas present on the first three tracks. Maybe the off-the-charts catchiness of parts of Torches have increased expectation on this album to be similar in execution, but the simple fact is there is very little to like here, besides a few slick guitar riffs here and there. Mid-album efforts ‘Nevermind’ and ‘The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones’ are cringeworthy pseudo-choral nonsense, and sound like they are probably leftovers from Foster’s soundtrack work. The low point is ‘Best Friend’, which grates like ’80s cheese-pop dorks Level 42 crossed with a bad case of food poisoning. There’s no ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, or even a ‘Helena Beat’, and while the variety of sounds have increased, the result isn’t in any way improved for it. Foster The People are going to have to work very hard to recover from this. (Columbia)

Event review: Opal Vapour – Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse – 5th June 2013


No, it’s not an upstart new-world band you haven’t heard of. Opal Vapour is a contemporary dance work with roots in Indonesian ancestral dance, and is brought to the stage with an Australian twist. Drawing on themes such as cleansing, purification, and belonging to a place of birth, and taking elements from Javanese shadow puppetry, the show is a stunning, haunting, and ultimately very impressive piece of work.

The Powerhouse’s Visy Theatre is a suitably dark and snug venue for a performance of this kind, and a perfectly-sized space for the three-person show. Consisting of the powerful physical moves of dancer Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal, the soaring voice and musicianship of Ria Soemardjo, and the lightning of Paula van Beek, the fifty-minute show is captivating from start to finish.

As the audience files into the theatre and takes to their seats, each and every person present slowly realises that the object on the stage, an oblong-shaped box perhaps six feet in length, has upon it a drape-covered shape that looks suspiciously like a person. It is only around ten minutes later when the show starts, that this is confirmed. Ria Soemardjo slowly circles the stage, chanting in a haunting fashion and ringing hand-held bells, before slowly removing the layers of drapes from what soon is revealed to be Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal’s body, and the show begins. The stamina to stay so still under hot spotlights and several layers of drapes is only the start of Tunggal’s physical exertion for this evening.

For the next forty minutes or so, the trio hold the audience in the palm of their hands, with a series of moves, postures, shades, and sounds that evoke strong images of trance, reawakening, and court dance. Visuals from an overhead camera are projected onto a screen behind the dancer to add a dual effect, and the box on which the performer spends the entire performance is lit from below and covered in a thick layer of sand; all of which ends up on the Visy floor by the end of the performance. Something else that happened at the end of the performance is the audience being so impressed that the performers were called back onto the stage four times for rounds of bows to the sound of thunderous applause; all richly deserved.

After being fairly spellbound for the duration of the performance, it’s a harsh reality that awaits the audience as they come blinking back into the light of the Powerhouse’s foyer, and while a dance performance needs to be seen to be fully appreciated, take it from me: this one was pretty damn great.