829 days after the release of Kevin Parker’s third album as Tame Impala, he uploads a YouTube video of himself seemingly coming up with a throwaway jam on the spot, before the tantalising words ‘CURRENTS COLLECTORS EDITION’ appear on screen. A few weeks later we’re presented with three previously unheard tracks and two remixes – one of which, Soulwax’s sprawling nine-minute rework of ‘Let It Happen’, has been well-known since 2015. This seems a slight let-down, as ‘COLLECTORS EDITION’ implies fancy vinyl packages and lots of cutting room floor material, but moving on:
‘List of People (To Try and Forget About)’ quite bluntly reminds us that Currents was Parker’s breakup album, and could snugly sit as a companion song to the meditative ‘Past Life’. Unfortunately, it goes on for too long and skirts too close to the side of Currents that was all limp, mopey ballads, but it makes sense as an opener. The way the drum track slowly emerges from the centre of the mix on ‘Powerlines’ is very aurally pleasing, but the fuzzy bass jars slightly with the dreamy synths and the track ends up sounding just how it appeared on the video – throwaway. Better suited to the album teaser and left at that. ‘Taxi’s Here’ is the best of the three; Parker sounding like he’s sitting at a crossroads and staring into the unknown, his now signature sci-fi synths and finger click percussion swirling around his mournful voice, then launching into a genuinely moving groove before he’s whisked off by the titular taxi, leaving us alone with the Aussie crickets and an awkward shuffling.
As the remixes go, Soulwax is exhilarating as always, and GUM’s (Tame Impala bandmate Jay Watson) stab at reworking ‘Reality in Motion’ comes off nice and danceable, although it teeters on the edge of the usual remix trap of isolated vocals over a house-y beat. You can see why these tracks were left off Currents – they’d have been forgettable album tracks without a shadow of a doubt – and the fact there are only three (three!) of them gives it the air of an afterthought release by an artist busy with bigger and better things. Let’s hope so.
[Ciaran McQueen – @_delareine]