Breakups spur both halves of what was once a whole to change the way they perceive themselves. There are tears, insults, and the lingering chills of loneliness. Usually, these moments don’t instantly come with a sense of self-awareness, but not everyone is as comfortable with being alone as Kevin Parker is.
Currents is Parker’s follow up to Lonerism, but it’s what happened in the silence between the last seconds of “Sun’s Coming Up” and the first warbling moments of “Let It Happen” that separates Tame Impala’s incredible sophomore album from their latest masterpiece: Kevin was in love, but by the time the lathe finished cutting Currents, he was already back out on the street and solo once again. This time, though, he’s seen the other side of life—where you actually care about someone else—and it has affected him immensely.
At the end of “Let It Happen,” Parker knows that this breakup is for the best (“Baby, I’m ready, move along”), but it only takes two seconds of deafening silence for the anxiety to kick in. “But is there something more than that?” Parker asks over and over again in “Nangs.” Currents yo-yos back and forth between acceptance (“Yes I’m Changing,” “Eventually,” “’Cause I’m a Man”) and crippling obsession (“The Less I Know The Better,” “The Moment,” “Love/Paranoia”) with such ease that you realize you aren’t listening to Parker complain about his ex, you’re hearing his innermost thoughts. Even in the distorted spoken-word track “Past Life,” you’re swirling around Parker’s head as he recounts almost running into a ghost to his friends. It’s a mesmerizing listen that’s only compounded by the album’s unexpected falsetto, twisted psychedelic melodies, and infectious synth lines.
Currents is Parker’s most personal album because he brings you into the aftermath of this breakup with him. He carries you along for both the hellish ride and the welcomed epiphany in the middle of “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”: “And I know it seems wrong to accept / But you’ve got your demons, and she’s got her regrets.” He’s still alone, but now he knows that he doesn’t have to be.
The album’s sultry grooves stick with you, but it’s the thoughtful, nuanced lyrics that pop up in unexpected ways—like the lost lover who haunts the corners of your mind. FL
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