Lonerism is the second full-length release from Australian psychedelic rock outfit Tame Impala--the band dropped Innerspeaker in 2010 to mostly positive reviews. Produced by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mogwai, Low), the recording of both albums has mostly rested in the hands of frontman Kevin Parker.
Listening to Lonerism is like walking into an early '70s jam session. Its swelling, psychedelic sound recalls an earlier, more straightforward time for rock 'n' roll. There is comfort in its nostalgia, but modern production allows for a sound quality that would not have been possible in that era.
The album's scope is larger than Innerspeaker and the sound fuller, which is a welcome evolution for Tame Impala. One of the brightest moments on the album is "Be Above it," Lonerism's predominantly instrumental opening track. The song expands in pulses over driving percussion and a breathily insistent "Gotta be above it / Gotta be above it," then immediately but effectively drops off. "Elephant" takes on a heavier, hallucinogen-unravelled sound that recalls T. Rex's Electric Warrior. It's a shame Lonerism doesn't continue pushing in this direction.
Certainly there is something to be said for meat-and-potatoes rock 'n' roll in a sea of mind-numbing beep-boop-beep music. That said, Lonerism has achieved a level of hype it doesn't necessarily deserve. Sure, it's an agreeable listen, but it's also easy for a listener to lose interest and for the record to quickly become background noise.
People respond well to familiarity in today's saturated musical climate. But by the same token, it's difficult to sing the praises of a record that doesn't present the listener with a challenge or new content.