The 15 Best Tame Impala Songs

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The 15 Best Tame Impala Songs

If you’re not a Tame Impala fan, you may have a certain preconception about the Australian psych-rock/pop act. But know this: Tame Impala may be good music to get high to, but they’re way more than stoner rock. Kevin Parker, the one constant and mastermind in Tame Impala, makes technically precise, emotionally ambivalent and stylishly produced music full of swirling synths and thumping basslines. Indeed, it’s great music for perpetuating certain vibes, but it’s also some of the most impressive music of any genre released in the 2010s. Following 2010’s Innerspeaker, 2012’s Lonerism and 2015’s Currents, Tame Impala are finally back with their fourth LP, The Slow Rush, out Friday. To commemorate the long-awaited release, we’re counting down our favorite Tame Impala tunes. Here are the 15 best Tame Impala songs, as chosen by the Paste music staff.

15. “Half Full Glass of Wine”

If you’ve followed Tame Impala for their whole career, “Half Full Glass of Wine” was probably the first song you heard from Kevin Parker & co. And what an introduction it was—featuring a quick false start to a mid-tempo shift about 20 seconds in, “Half Full Glass of Wine” settles into a groove and refuses to let it go. Parker’s vocals are noticeably lower and less-processed, showcasing a much different side of Tame Impala than what we’re accustomed to 12 years later, but the song shows how fully-formed the band was even in its infancy. Oh, and what a guitar solo that was! —Steven Edelstone

14. “Music To Walk Home By”

This song bubbles and oozes like it was made to be on a Halloween playlist. But it’s way smarter than “Monster Mash.” Parker drops one of his deadly, targeted couplets—”In so many ways / I’m somebody else / While trying so hard / To be myself”—that’ll leave you feeling like you’re invisible. But no one ever said Kevin Parker was here to cheer you on—he’s more concerned with his own mortality. —Ellen Johnson

13. “Disciples”

One of the briefest songs in Tame Impala’s discography, “Disciples” is a compact little bundle of bass and existential dread. Its success peaks in one point in particular: the breakdown at 0:45. From that point on, the song is louder, more aggressive and more regretful. More than anything, it’s a damn good breakup song. But it always comes back to one of Currents’ main themes: change. —Ellen Johnson

12. “Patience”

If you’re ever at a stop light and the person driving next to you is playing air piano and trying to drum on the steering wheel at the same time, then they’re listening to “Patience” by Tame Impala. “Patience” is a track infused with the sounds of banging piano chords, echoing drums, a good old synthesizer for Tame Impala’s signature psychedelic sound and of course, Kevin Parker’s sweet whisper and dreamy vocals. “Patience” could get even the shyest person in the club to tap their foot and sway their hips.—Daniella Boik

11. “Be Above It”

Short, simple mantras can work wonders if they skirt cliches. The eponymous “Be Above It” mantra has a sentiment that’s easily understood and deeply resonant. Both the whispered version in the background and Kevin Parker’s take in the verse have a rock solid emotional core—the hushed version sounds like someone is panting on a run and using the phrase to amp themselves up, while Parker’s shows off his signature, dulcet psych tone. The bare, pounding drums are a striking juxtaposition from their cosmic synth pulses, and it feels like a military charge when paired with the huffing and puffing backing vocals. There might not be many lyrics on this track, but there’s so much going on elsewhere—most prominently, the dramatic synth tumult that unfurls on the second half of the song. —Lizzie Manno

10. “Expectation”

“Expectation” is what kaleidoscopic stoner pop should be. Their washed-out guitars and taut drums preserve an askew structure, giving off a distinct dimension-hopping effect. You can hear the ripples that accent the song—whether it be the slightly jangly guitar strums or the acid-drenched vocals—and you can practically envision them too. It’s evocative, but it doesn’t play into the cheap psychedelic banalities that achieve an artificial or aesthetic high. Its lyrics aren’t a product of the genre—Parker’s emotional cynicism and insecurities are laid bare and could fit into any style. What’s astounding is that the most poignant line (“We may never have been in love”) is glazed over in Parker’s delivery, but the crashing sonics explode immediately after he finishes the verse—as if this mind-altering realization needed a second to sink in. Parker is a master of subtleties, and their early, heavy psych material succeeds especially in its dynamism. —Lizzie Manno

9. “The Bold Arrow Of Time”

Hidden deep in Tame Impala’s debut record Innerspeaker, “The Bold Arrow of Time” has one of those guitar riffs, the ones that stick in your mind hours, if not days, after you first hear it. That riff (which he even sings at one point!) is hypnotic, unlike virtually anything Kevin Parker’s written since. The song is a perfect example of Tame Impala occasionally realizing that, despite Parker being one of the pre-eminent studio wizards of his time, it makes sense to keep things simple. And that simplicity proves infectious here: There’s no psych-haze à la “Solitude is Bliss,” just straightforward rock ‘n’ roll nirvana instead, and that’s a glorious thing. —Steven Edelstone

8. “Apocalypse Dreams”

Every now and then, amid out-there guitars and indecipherable vocals, Tame Impala find a way to reign it all in and produce moments of psych-rock bliss. Nowhere does the Aussie band achieve that more than in “Apocalypse Dreams” when the upbeat piano and mesmerizing drums give way to a massive slowed-down bass riff as Parker sings, “everything is changing.” The song quickly reverts back to its initial sped-up groove, but it’s one of the most interesting and hypnotic parts of Tame Impala’s growing back catalog, a truly impressive moment of psych-rock euphoria. —Steven Edelstone

7. “Elephant”

This is absolutely the most hype song across Tame Impala’s three albums—even though it has major car commercial energy. The booming, driving synthlines and heavy bass crash into each other repeatedly before a rush of psychedelic noise threatens to collapse the entire operation. Parker compares a large and timid man to an elephant, and you know what? It’s beautiful! —Ellen Johnson

6. “Solitude Is Bliss”

Stimulating motifs are just one reason why you could argue that Innerspeaker is Tame Impala’s best album. There’s a palpable energy to songs like “Solitude Is Bliss,” where their classic psychedelic influences are elevated rather than scavenged. Kevin Parker became a gateway drug for many younger listeners into the world of ’60s psych-pop, and “Solitude Is Bliss” surely has to be responsible for the formation of at least a few dozen bands. Their swirling riffs and reverberating drums invite waves of melodic pleasure, and Parker’s heavily-warped vocals steer the ship. “You will never come close to how I feel,” Parker sings, alluding to the heavenly void that he ironically also places listeners in. —Lizzie Manno

5. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”

Kevin Parker loves to play with the concept of time (He does it frequently on LP4, The Slow Rush, which you’ll soon hear), and on “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” he examines it from a place of internal debate. A cyclical synthline pleasantly drones on while Parker repeats over and over, “It feels like I only go backwards, darling / Every part of me says, “Go ahead” / But I got my hopes up again, oh no, not again / Feels like we only go backwards, darling.” Put this on a loop and you’ll probably fall into a deep, deep slumber—now when I snap my fingers, act like a duck! Just kidding, I don’t know how to hypnotize people. But I’m convinced Kevin does. You can literally smell the marijuana in this song. —Ellen Johnson

4. “Yes I’m Changing”

Say what you will about an ex-partner’s (or whoever’s) potential to change, come back, make it all better—Kevin Parker knows the truth. “They say people never change, but that’s bullshit, they do,” he sings matter-of-factly over those signature, spiraling Currents synths. Both lyrically and metaphorically, this song slots in early in the album’s storyline: Parker succumbs to adulthood, to life beyond a love that was too good to be true. He imagines a new life for himself, and even if he’ll continue to make the “same old mistakes,” that hope of becoming a better person was there, albeit fleeting. He sings the line “Another version of myself I think I’ve found, at last” with a sigh of relief, and this one with bright eyes: “There’s a world out there and it’s calling my name / And it’s calling yours, girl it’s calling yours too,” just before those harpsichords (harpsichords!) swell. —Ellen Johnson

3. “Mind Mischief”

Who knew self-doubt could sound this good? Easily Kevin Parker’s catchiest guitar riff (and perhaps his most interesting percussion, too), “Mind Mischief” is Tame Impala at their psych-rock best. Throughout, Parker laments his inability to talk to women, perpetually unable to swallow that lump and start that awkward conversation. “How optimism led me astray / Two hundred things I took the wrong way,” he croons, his voice distant and unsure of itself. But song blows up when that initial optimism comes true: “She remembers my name!” he exclaims. There’s a reason why this record is called Lonerism after all: Though the whole album deals with this sort of social anxiety, it’s best exemplified here, when minor victories feel like the world may not be such an awful place after all. —Steven Edelstone

2. “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”

Here’s a game: go into any coffeeshop in America, wait 30 minutes, and then guess if you’re hearing the opening notes on Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” or Rihanna’s cover, “Same Ol’ Mistakes.” This is the game my co-workers and I would play every single day in almost every coffeeshop I’ve worked in—they are both Pandora staples, and it’s easy to see why. With an infectious, effortlessly cool bassline (instantly recognizable, too), “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” is masterful in its execution of mood. I mean, Rihanna covered it! For ANTI! You know, the album that basically defined what “mood” meant in 2010s pop music? While Rihanna’s version is incredible in its faithfulness, you can’t knock the original here—and Parker’s gall in closing his opus of self-change with a song so laced with unreliability. Still, Parker manages to make a return to square one sound so damn enticing. —Austin Jones

1. “The Less I Know the Better”

For some reason, this impeccable song has developed a reputation for being basic and even a bit uncool. But the standout track from Tame Impala’s Currents is a perfect song, arguably one of the most entertaining marriages of electric guitar and synth this decade (we certainly think so). Using rhyme and one of the grooviest synthlines you’ll ever hear, Kevin Parker weaves together feelings of desire, regret and jealousy in what has become a dance party staple. The danceability of this song is nearly mathematical—it gets people moving without fail. In the larger context of Currents, it’s a break from the existential dread of the rest of the album. Heard as a single, even on one of Spotify’s “chill indie” playlists, it’s reliable sonic gold. —Ellen Johnson

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