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Music » Album Reviews

Tame Impala and Tennis try to dial down their pretension

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Australian neo-psychedelic group Tame Impala and Denver yacht-rock duo Tennis share more than album release dates — they’re both trying to replace their reputation for pomposity with a little humility.

This might be harder for Kevin Parker, the perfectionistic lead composer for Tame Impala, though he does try to reach nirvana by subtler paths in the 12 tracks of The Slow Rush (Interscope). Particularly dazzling moments like the repeated themes of “Borderline” or the distorted guitar of “Breathe Deeper” are worth remembering, though too often the band’s mix of Philly soul and progressive rock can have forgettable moments similar to Beck’s latest album.

Tennis has addressed claims of arrogance in its latest album Swimmer (Thirty Tigers) by dispensing with songs of upper-class global vagabonds, while moving Alaina Moore’s vocals up in the mix and making Patrick Riley’s arrangements crisper. Tennis now sounds less like a floating oceanbound band such as Beach House, and more like mid-period Carole King.

Both bands have learned the important lesson that a debut album does not confer immediate historicity. Instead, legends that survive over decades must humbly build reputations song by song.

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