Last week, pop’s premier weirdo Lady Gaga released her new single “Perfect Illusion.” To many indie fans this wouldn’t matter, wouldn’t even be on their radar after the month long hangover they’re currently going through after Reading and Leeds. Here’s the rub: Gaga’s single was produced by Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker. Parker recently opened up to Australia’s Triple J about the collaboration:
“It started out as such a career move… but it quickly became something so personal and meaningful for everyone involved. I’m just happy it’s all out in the open now.”
The music industry is full of crossovers, no artist stays chained to their genre for long, unless you’re Liam Gallagher, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that indie darlings Tame Impala, and Lady Gaga are connected in this way. The band have been flirting with pop since their first album, Innerspeaker, came out in 2010. In fact you could say that they are pulling a Blur, but in reverse. Blur, throughout their Britpop heyday, were frequently putting little touches of experimentation in their crowd pleasing songs. The seeds of this grew into their 1997 self-titled album in which they threw out their pop stylings completely and embraced the sound of American low-fi.
Tame Impala are on the other side of the spectrum. Kevin Parker has a reputation of being a genius level perfectionist in the studio, bringing to mind one of the bands biggest influences: Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, but he’s actually closer to Tegan and Sara: he’s an artist who could make millions writing for popstars, but instead he and his bandmates do everything on their own terms.
After two critically acclaimed albums; their sophomore release Lonerism topped many critics best of lists in 2012, the band took a lighter, but no less detailed, diversion with their third album Currents. Currents is a pop album full of alternative tricks. Tracks like opener “Let it Happen,” and “The Less I know the Better” have hooks that mine themselves in your head. The album’s closing track, “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” was even reworked for Rihanna’s new album Anti.
Tame Impala’s place in the musical landscape can be debated till the end of time. Until then they will just keep making music that bridges the divide between indie and pop, in a way that is specifically them.