THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF KEVIN PARKER
Q Magazine selects some of the Tame Impala leader’s greatest tracks, collaborations, productions and lesser-known gems.
Q Magazine is the UK's top music magazine that brings music alive, every month. With world-beating exclusives, amazing photography and an inimitable sense of humour, Q Magazine tells the stories behind the music that matters.
Let It Happen
2012’s Lonerism had proved Tame Impala to be in a league of their own when it came to modern-day psych rock. The first taste of the follow-up, however, showed Kevin Parker’s tentacles were spreading far across the pop sphere, wrapping themselves around contemporary R&B and stuttering electro-funk. Eight shapeshifting minutes that still sound remarkable and provide the high watermark of Tame Impala’s career to date.
On: Currents, 2015
Mark Ronson feat. Kevin Parker
Parker wrote Daffodils for pal Mark Ronson’s globe-conquering 2015 album Uptown Special. As with the equally great Leaving Los Feliz, it proved to be a match made in heaven, the super-producer adding some cut-glass chops to Parker’s slinky vocal to create a late-night strut that lands somewhere between Saturday Night Fever and Talking Heads.
On: Uptown Special, 2015
Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix)
1970s oddball and Tame Impala spiritual forefather Todd Rundgren impressively manages to out weird Parker on this B-side remix. Sending thunderous breakthrough hit Elephant even further into the stratosphere via some bong-friendly synth solos and crunching electronic tweaks.
On: Elephant, 2012
The Less I Know The Better
The funkiest bit of Tame Impala’s funky bits. An elastic bassline pings irresistibly underneath twinkling bells and Parker’s heartbroken falsetto. Also one of the greatest songs ever to feature a protagonist called Trevor.
On: Currents, 2015
There’s plenty of the DNA that made Tame Impala’s Currents so seductive on this track Parker co-wrote and produced with US singer Kali Uchis. Languid grooves get progressively more languid, sinking deep into a warm pool of spacey sound as Uchis’s vocals drift off into a sonic dreamworld.
On: Isolation, 2018
Pretty much all of Pond have been part of Tame Impala’s touring band at one point. As their one-time employer ventured into more electronic-influenced territory, his long-time friends and collaborators kept the freak flag flying, as this gonzoid fuzzbox stomper from Kevin Parker-produced fifth album, Hobo Rocket, shows.
On: Hobo Rocket, 2013
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Featuring a melancholy tune so perfect Lennon and McCartney could have written it circa 1966 (not to mention a lolloping bassline Macca would have been proud of), Feels Like We Only Go Backwards marked Parker as a truly great modern songwriter. As proven when a clip of an American school choir singing it went viral in 2012.
On: Lonerism, 2012
I Follow You
Melody’s Echo Chamber
Parker met Melody Prochet when the French singer’s previous band My Bee’s Garden supported Tame Impala. He went on to produce her debut album as Melody’s Echo Chamber, filtering her dreamy Gallic pop through his own distinctive sonic filter.
On: Melody’s Echo Chamber, 2012
The toe-tapping, four-to-the-floor Motown swish that underpins the opening bars of Apocalypse Dreams suggests it might play out as a straight-down-the-line ’60s pop homage. However, Tame Impala being Tame Impala, Parker flings it out into progressively stranger, mind-expanding territory before neatly whiplashing it back to Earth.
On: Lonerism, 2012
List Of People (To Try And Forget About)
Written and recorded between 2012’s Lonerism and 2015’s Currents, List Of People (To Try And Forget About) provides a fascinating link between the two albums, more polished and slippery than the former, more ’60s- indebted than the latter and – crucially – featuring one of Parker’s best tunes.
On: Currents B-Sides And Remixes EP, 2017
An early indicator that the young Aussie space cadet’s tastes might not be as catholic as some might think, this early B-side was a cover of Blue Boy’s ’90s club hit. In the hands of Tame Impala it came out sounding – bizarrely – not a million miles away from Kula Shaker.
On: Sundown Syndrome/Remember Me, 2009
Waves (Tame Impala Remix)
Further evidence that Kevin Parker’s influence stretches far beyond rock and indie (see also Rihanna’s Tame Impala-sampling Same Ol’ Mistakes), this retooling of Miguel’s Waves is a perfect blend of blissed-out psychedelia and throaty, full-blooded R&B.
On: Rogue Waves EP, 2016
Desire Be Desire Go
Though the very early Tame Impala recordings sound almost unrecognisably scrappy next to Parker’s current productions, 2008’s Desire Be Desire Go holds the blueprints for what was to come – clattering drum loops, fuzzy grooves and head-spinning melodic gorgeousness.
On: Tame Impala EP, 2008
Gotta Get A Grip (Kevin Parker remix)
Mick Jagger’s toe-curling, “politically engaged” 2017 single Gotta Get A Grip might have felt like the equivalent of Michael Gove professing a love for grime music, but in the hands of Kevin Parker it took on a snarling, bad-trip spikiness The Rolling Stones singer misplaced sometime in the early ’70s.
On: Gotta Get A Grip, 2017
It Might Be Time
Parker reports that Tame Impala’s forthcoming new album has been influenced by ’70s stadium rock and Meat Loaf. It Might Be Time may be short on brow-mopping operatics, but it is an excellent mash-up of his trademark drum sound, siren-like synths and the sort of gloopy keyboards that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Supertramp record. A tantalising taste of what’s to come.
On: It Might Be Time, 2019