Well, I don’t think this is necessarily my own guilty pleasure. This may very well be a guilty pleasure everyone shares. My guilty pleasure is pop music. Cheesy, catchy and damn-eternal-sunshine-pop. Happiness comes in many forms for me. Rock music gives me an unwarranted thrill and chaos that no other genres provides. Jazz makes me relaxed and complacent, and intrigues my musical mind into how it is composed. Metal is a mind of its own and does whatever it wants to do to its listeners. But, pop … pop gives me a feeling of happiness that is unparalleled with the rest. Worthy for a good sing-a-long or the fastest way for a cheer-up, bright pop music brings unbridled joy. Despite the connotations that pop has from those certain listeners, you can’t not enjoy pop for what it’s worth. Whether it’s the comprised electronic pop, bubblegum pop, indie-pop, or just the downright “I shouldn’t really be listening to this” pop, we have all our favourites – what’s yours?
Flawless in creation, The Slow Rush is an episodic concept that draws on temporal themes of the unending cycle of life.
Similar to that of a slow rush in itself, we seemingly crash through our lifetimes – without actually having a sense of feeling about them at all.
I felt like I heard Tame Impala’s deep dive of The Slow Rush for the first time, in a fever dream. More so a surreal escapist than that of your generic music artist, it is no wonder his ravenous audience is lapping up every morsel Tame Impala (Kevin Parker) gives us to consume.
After all, we hadn’t spoken about Tame Impala (Kevin Parker) elusive acts of music since his commercial corner of Currents. That was back in 2015. 2020, and we have the return of said fever dream with The Slow Rush 5 years later.
Drawing on ideas witnessing your own lifetime whizzing by in a mere lightning bolt, The Slow Rush is a piece of work that praises the unending cycle of life. This unending – and simply unnatural feeling – is ever-present in its song names too, as it draws on elements of oxymorons with Instant Destiny, Tomorrow’s Dust and Lost in Yesterday, that as phrases, give you no feeling of resolve or – dare I say it – a formative ending. The album concept name itself Slow Rush, gives us an impression of these temporal themes, perceiving the problematic feeling of rushing our passage of time without actually feeling it at all.
The album even ends on Parker longing for One More Hour – despite seemingly wasting his time, as he originally requested a longer duration of time at the beginning of the album with One More Year. This emphatic illustration draws on us as humans to unduly ask for more and more time – despite already having it.
But, of course we come to the eventual realisation about it all with, Is it True and It Might Be Time – with Parker reciting, “something doesn’t feel right” when we do realise it is our time to eventually face the music.
With that said, Tame Impala’s ebbings and flowings of creating stills in music has been prevalent since his first experiment with InnerSpeaker in 2010. Giving the music project name of Tame Impala, insinuating that it is indeed a band behind the music, Parker’s approach to psychedelia, dystopia and surrealism has reached the breaking point of the genre we know it as, “psychedelic rock”, and ultimately smashed Parker’s music into a genre of its own.
Despite the disjointed efforts of Parker recording one half of the album in Los Angeles and his own home studio in Fremantle, Australia, the album concept is anything but. The Slow Rush just adds to the ever-existing beauty that fulfils Parker’s music already.
Striking the distance between the strange and the curious, Collections from the Whiteout draws everlasting collaborations – but holds its own with Howard still prevalent as the inventive singer-songwriter.
If I told you that Aaron Dessner of The National had a major hand in producing and spinning his thoughts into Howard’s fourth successive album, you’d instantly understand it’s thought-process. A simply inventive piece of studio production, it merely avoids the dooming darkness that we saw on predecessors Noonday Dream and I Forget Where We Were, and brings a new intriguing oddity to his writing work.
Despite lacking its consistent catchy flings that we saw in amicable favourites Keep Your Head Up and Only Love, from his loveable debut, Every Kingdom back in 2011 – the elusive narratives, rustic thrills and heart-ache guitar pangs from Dessner make it an album worth writing about.
As he careens from his original path of the folk/vocal combo and instead diving into a distortion of electronics, it just tells us more about what kind of singer-songwriter Ben Howard is. Compelling, inventive and simply unafraid to embrace change.
With single stand-outs few and far between – as it’s best as a collective – Sorry Kid, Crowhurst’s Meme and Finders Keepers are some of my favourites from the 14-track album. With themes less thought-provoking but rather taken straight from snapshots of news articles, the album is rife with collaborations and inspiration from seven co-collaborators who all have a hand-in making Howard’s next masterpiece.
While it may veer away from Howard’s original sound and sometimes veer off too much, it still manages to keep itself grounded allowing Ben to still flourish in moments of bitter-sweet beauty. While it’s a saddening moment to not hear Howard again flex his own acoustic compassion and folky vibes from Every Kingdom, just the musical journey alone he is undertaking is good enough for me.
Other album reviews for this month:
For us delving into the music industry, hoping for the reprising role of live music to return to our lives with the majesty of concerts, events and festivals over the Summer, this is another important topic of discussion.
What are your plans for when music does return?
Are there any of your rescheduled gigs or concerts pushed til the end of the year?
If so, who are you going to see?
Are you one of those people that is feeling fairly uncomfortable still in the midst of the crowd and will wait til the safety of 2022? If so, let me know your thoughts.
For me, I do have gigs that were indeed, necessarily postponed from the start of this year and deferred til the autumn of 2021, and even to the starting winter months of 2022. I’ll probably decide to steer clear of summer festivals until there is a conditional format of safety and concern with these. There is something about the uncertainty of festival planning that makes me nervous about maintaining social distancing and the undoubtable risk of rising cases yet again for us as a nation.
I am set to watch Idles and Foals in the coming months in London, and of course – I am hoping to return to the fields of Somerset for Glastonbury in 2022 – if I get the chance to grab those aloof tickets, of course! But, unlike most, I haven’t gone out and purchased every festival ticket under the sun, because undoubtedly, the majority of those tickets will be refunded. This is where our consumer haste to return to normality will be our downfall during these extraordinary times.
If any, let me know your music plans for 2021/2022!
Isle of Wight Festival line-up intriguing you? Lost to pick for live music? View below and gain a bit more insight into what the live music sector has to offer you this summer.
Tennessee-bred quartet draw up eighth studio album that replaces swagger for subtlety that strengthens over time.
Reprising their roles as emphatic titans in the rock music industry, they have returned from their 2016 album, WALLS with their eighth release, When You See Yourself in early March of 2021. With less temper and angst to it than most other records compared to Find Me and Waste a Moment on their previous, it is ultimately fashioned with progressive playing, delicate sentiment and glossy productive finish.
Unfortunately – while this record is a blissful listen – it carries itself with not a lot of substance. Whilst dirty guitar hooks are present in pre-single, The Bandit and halfway-down-the-list Stormy Weather, the album soon becomes lost in itself and an intermingling of songs folding into one another seems to happen. For a while, while listening to this album, I did seem to forget where I was, who I was listening to and would often take a step back and play the record again. Nevertheless, it is still a confident and mature direction from the rock quartet that no doubt stamps their mark on their triumphs they have had throughout the years they’ve been active.
For Kings of Leon, their legacy drives a hard bargain and majorly wins over your opinion for such a delicate studio album.
While it does seem to lose itself on rare occasions, it is a blissful listen with its glossy textures, playful guitar song-writing and exact ambiguity that was present on some of their first records like Because of the Times and Come Around Sundown.
Favourites from the 11-track selection include When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away, A Wave and Golden Restless Age.