The Beatles come up a lot when we talk about Tame Impala – from the band’s immersive psych fantasias to Kevin Parker’s sleepy, Lennon-esque drawl. In their rave review of their most recent album, 2012’s Lonerism, NME pinpointed the Fab Four’s trippy 1966 touchstone as its key antecedent and singled out the senses-massaging track ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ as the tallest shadow looming over Tame Impala.
Awarded a 9 out of 10 at the time, Lonerism later topped NME’s list of 2012’s best albums. In their own 9.0 review of it, Pitchfork praised Tame Impala’s newfound incorporation of electronic music into their established Beatles-y sphere “without resorting to ripping off the breakbeat/Beatles template” of The Chemical Brothers’ Revolver-damaged Noel Gallagher collaboration ‘Setting Sun’.
As for that nagging vocal resemblance, Pitchfork wrote: “Yes, Parker does sound like John Lennon. Many athletes pattern their golf swings after Tiger Woods, their batting stance on Barry Bonds, or stick out their tongue while taking a jump shot like Michael Jordan. It means little if you don’t have the skills to connect and perform.”
In a 2012 interview with Vulture, Parker was asked directly about the comparisons. His response: “I never actually personally thought John Lennon. I just thought it sounded like The Beatles. I still, to this day, have no idea why it ends up sounding that way.” Parker partly put it down to the vocal effects he uses, like double-tracking and delay. “I just love really thin, silvery-sounding vocals,” he said. “That vocal sound really touches me more than anything else.”
While a Pitchfork live review compared Parker’s singing – on and off record – to someone having “trapped John Lennon’s vocal take from ‘A Day in the Life’ in a jar and taught it to sing new songs,” Parker said in that Vulture interview: “I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Sgt. Pepper’s the whole way through,” instead citing Abbey Road as “probably one of my favorite albums.” Still, he clarified, “I’d say most of the rest of the world are bigger Beatles fans than me. They’d know more of the songs and more of the lyrics – I don’t really know that stuff. I just respect them.”
Before all those Beatles nods, back when Tame Impala were breaking through on the basis of their self-titled 2008 EP, Cream were the go-to band for comparisons. But that only really wound up applying to that EP, and primarily to the song ‘Half-Full Glass of Wine’, with which the band closed their Meredith set last year. (It’s a frequent set-capper for them, to this day.)
In a 2010 interview with Adelaide’s Sunday Mail, Parker said of Tame Impala’s first album, InnerSpeaker: “I don’t think there’s even a trace of Cream on it, and if anyone says it sounds like Cream then I don’t really know what to say. The only song that really had any Cream influence was ‘Half-Full Glass of Wine’ from the EP… I don’t even think the album sounds that ’60s.”
And yet, in an April piece on The Guardian tracing the varied “soundtrack” of his life, Parker cited Cream’s 1967 album Disraeli Gears as ‘The Record that Got Me into Psychedelic Rock’. He expounded: “I listened to The Doors, Colour Haze, Black Sabbath and stuff like that, but the album that really got me into it was Disraeli Gears. I loved that rumbling, fuzzed-out sound. I picked it up in a record store one day and it just blew my mind.”
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“I listened to The Doors, Colour Haze, Black Sabbath and stuff like that, but the album that really got me into it was Disraeli Gears. I loved that rumbling, fuzzed-out sound.”
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Article by FasterLouder for Stoli Australia