‘Hey Jude’. ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. ‘Eleanor Rigby’. ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’. You don’t need context – everyone automatically knows exactly who you’re talking about. There’s something indicative in the idea that The Beatles’ most famous songs need no byline: they’ve become a part of pop culture. ‘Let It Be’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’ aren’t just song titles anymore; they are life philosophies to a good portion of the population. The opening chords of ‘Blackbird’ are synonymous with a bygone era of music-making that encouraged poetry and simple elegance. At some point in life you may have stumbled across a few stanzas in a random Beatles song that changed your whole world. For me, ‘Dear Prudence’, its rounded melody and the unpretentious lyrics that danced alongside it, were the thing: it hails back to a time when cool summer nights were accompanied by a father’s capable plucking-away at the strings of an old Gibson acoustic.
For some, The Beatles and their masterpieces were met with staunch opposition, many preferring the deeper cuts of outstanding artists like The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd and The Clash. Though they’ll never admit it, even these musical aficionados have one song, one line, one transition guitar riff that gets their head spinning.
Still some have remained obsessive over all things British Invasion; whenever ‘Twist and Shout’ or ‘Baby’s In Black’ creeps over the airwaves, they scream internally and begin to sweat. They know the words to ‘Honey Pie’ and the hidden track at the end of Abbey Road, ‘Her Majesty’. They’ve collected all the anthology issues and know the trivia. For these fans, Beatlemania never really ended.
Whichever side you count yourself to be on in terms of a modern rock counterpart (and heir to the throne of awesomeness), Tame Impala hits all the right notes: if you’re seeking a group to bridge the gap between Yesteryear and The Right Now or simply looking for a powerhouse to fill the void left by the tragedy that is the Magical Mystery Tour movie, this is your band.
Tame Impala’s 2012 studio album Lonerism kicks off your new summer “must-listen” playlist: Lonerism’s lead track, ‘Gotta Be Above It’ reads like a psychedelic trip down memory lane, thumping, whispered backtrack headed by the ethereal voice of Impala’s Kevin Parker—who sounds eerily like a Rubber Soul era John Lennon. ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ follows with a slight Abbey Road/early ’80s/Coldplay feel, grounded by the same floating vocals. A personal favorite, ‘Mind Mischief’, gives off a Revolver period vibe, complete with steady guitar riffs that seem pulled right from Harrison’s ‘Taxman’. To pull the album more into the present, Parker and collaborator Jay Watson top off the list with the ever-played ‘Elephant’, a rocking bass holding it all together.
The band’s initial debut album (after their self-titled 2006 EP), Innerspeaker, boasts its own viable list of candidates for “Song Most Likely to Blow Your Mind”: ‘The Bold Arrow of Time’ kicks out the speakers with a heavy footed guitar riff like something straight out of The Beatles’ ‘She’s So Heavy’ (or the whole back catalogue of Jimi Hendrix masterpieces). Anyone who counts themselves a fan of fellow Aussie band Jet and their smash album Shaka Rock will also eat this one up. ‘Solitude Is Bliss’ slaps the listener with a trippy, sliding jam that builds more and more with each lyric:
‘Lucidity’ lands at the number one spot on many people’s lists, and for good reason: one listener comments, “If John Lennon were alive today, he would sound like this.” The sturdy beat and hallucinogenic quality of the guitar licks rings mightily like a mix between Lennon’s very own ‘Cold Turkey’ and the Hendrix classic ‘Voodoo Child’.
Whichever song you choose, you can’t seem to go wrong with Tame Impala. The band’s irresistible efforts towards preserving what made rock and roll great combined with newness and a desire to twist the status quo with psychedelic nuances helps land them at the top of the food chain: if The Beatles, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Coldplay, The White Stripes, and Jet had a love-child together, the resultant bundle of joy would be this.
“Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about,” Lennon once wrote. With that in mind, take a moment for yourself and relax: pull the headphones on and prepare to escape with the searing rock of Tame Impala for an hour… or four.