Lonerism is a fitting title for Tame Impala's second record. It's a magical mystery tour of a lonely person's mind.
Yes, the Beatles reference is intentional. It's hard to ignore the moments that seem to echo the band in the mid-'60s. There's the psychedelic guitar freakout with voices babbling and cackling underneath on “Keep On Lying,” the tumbling and crash drums on “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control,” or the tape looping throughout. Of course, Tame Impala is not The Beatles, and Lonerism is very much its own modern mess of psychedelic rock, no matter how retro it leans.
Anyway, the loneliness. It's odd to hear a band tackling the sad-sack emotions by playing something other than acoustic guitar, but even in the haze of this trippy dream, the feelings are clear. “Why Won't They Talk To Me” repeats the title, and “I Thought I Was Happy” with soul-crushing frequency. Over the fuzzy low-end riff of “Elephant,” Kevin Parker (primary creative force of Tame Impala) sings “He's got friends but you get the feeling / That they wouldn't care too much if he'd just disappear.” Oof.
Lonerism can feel a little overwhelming, and not just because of the feelings. It's full-throttle psychedelics nearly the whole way through, with twisted guitar lines worming around in your head, electronic flourishes catching you off guard and cymbals crashing though. It's so much that even a brief acoustic guitar moment on “Why Won't They Talk To Me?” is a nice sonic breather.
But maybe there's something to be said for being overwhelmed. Tame Impala created an excellent record that sounds retro while still moving forward, not forgetting that experimentalism is at the heart of psych rock.
Oh, and just try to get the desperately whispered mantra under “Be Above It” out of your head. It's scary.