Australian musician Kevin Parker, known as the forerunner of the psychedelic musical project Tame Impala, hasn’t released an album since the 2015 hit “Currents.” But a lot is in the works for Tame Impala, as they prepare to headline Coachella later this year.
On March 30, the band made an appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” where they performed their two most recent songs: “Patience,” which had been out for a week before the television performance, and “Borderline” which debuted for the first time during the live show itself.
Fans had the opportunity to experience a song for the first time in a live setting, and it is safe to say that they were not disappointed by Tame Impala’s execution. After “Currents” skyrocketed their career, the audience was waiting on the edge of their seats for more.
In an interview with NME before the releases, Parker said that he doesn’t like to play unreleased songs live. ”I like that the first time people hear it is the kind of the recorded glory, like the premeditated thing that I’ve spent two years on,” he said. “Rather than being half drunk and bashing it out on stage you know, hitting clanger notes and stuff.”
Despite this, fans have absolutely raved about Tame Impala’s two newest hits. Here’s why.
According to MxDwn, Parker describes Tame Impala’s music as the result of one person constructing an awesome symphony of sound. “You can layer your own voice 700 times for half a second if you want, and I just love that kind of music,” Parker said.
For the rest of the group: “The only jamming that’s done as a band is done a long time after the song is recorded for the sake of the live environment.” Parker admitted that the situation is good for Tame Impala, as it gives the group a lot of freedom.
“Patience” certainly set the stage for Tame Impala’s future Coachella performance with its psychedelic, disco vibe, which, during the “SNL” performance, was accompanied by colorful lights, a techno beat and Parker holding a set of maracas.
I would argue that with “Patience,” Tame Impala is going to completely change the atmosphere of the famous music festival, Coachella, by opening up more of an indie persona to the audience instead of top 40 pop headliners.
Much like other Tame Impala songs, “Patience” features piano riffs done in a style comparable to Hall & Oates, along with various techno instruments, such as synths and bass slides. Parker opens up the song with the line “Has it been even that long?” as a way to connect to his audience that have been waiting over four years for another hit.
Other fans conspire that the song is a parallel to Parker’s career and his relationship. They believe that the opening line is an acknowledgement that his career and/or relationship hasn’t been that long.
Following the main theory that “Patience” is about Parker’s career, the pre-chorus goes to explain that lots of people ask Parker what is coming next, hinting that the success he’s already obtained isn’t enough. “Just growin’ up in stages / Lay down no more / Livin’ life in phases / Another season changes / And still my days are shapeless,” he responds, trying to continue to grind and achieve more success.
On a general note, though, Parker lives his entire life in phases, singing about his uncertainty on how to pass the days. In my opinion, this theme will hone in well with Tame Impala’s audience; lyrics about not being sure which direction to go paired with the energetic disco beats describes the millennial generation: happy on the surface but having an existential crises on the inside.
Although its vibe is still heavy on the psychedelics, “Borderline” has a hint of pop to it, which could be a result of Tame Impala’s recent collaborations with pop stars such as Lady Gaga and Travis Scott. The track also explores the theme of time, particularly on how Parker seems to be wasting it. “We’re on the borderline/On the borrowed time, we’ve wasted one day,” Parker sings.
But like “Patience,” listeners can interpret “Borderline’s” lyrics on an even deeper scale. For instance, there is an emphasis that Parker is on the borderline of something in various elements of his life. “On the borderline/Right between the rides of pain and rapture/Then I saw the time, watched it speeding by/Watched your spirit ride like a train.” The chorus questions if Parker will be known and loved, alluding to the sense of pressure to be famous and on-top in order to receive proper love and attention.
There seems to be a parallel between the two songs in terms of questioning the mental health problems that are associated with fame and fortune. There’s a constant battle to stay on top and if you don’t, you’re deemed washed up and worthless by consumers and the entertainment industry.
But, on a more positive note, Tame Impala closes out “Borderline” with lyrics of self-assurance. “Will I be known and loved? / Gettin’ closer, it’s close enough / Shout out to what is done/RIP, here comes the sun.” Parker is coming to terms with the fact that he is enough, and that music should be his focus instead of the fame. Similar to “Patience,” the ending of “Borderline” has an upbeat tone and electronic riffs throughout, creating a song to dance to, even though the lyrics are somewhat daunting.
“Patience,” “Borderline” and their performance on SNL has placed Tame Impala in a perfect position, as they prepare for their Coachella performance, as well as other performances throughout the summer, including Lollapalooze, Primavera Sound and Glastonbury.