Norwegian collective Young Dreams have attempted to create an album of symphonic wonder. It’s not lacking in ambition, but in attempting to reach too high, Between Places falls short.
It’s a beautiful sunny day by the water’s edge in Sydney, and Kevin Parker is in a world of pain. “I am going to defeat this hangover. Whatever it takes, I’m gonna beat the bastard. Though I’ll happily admit I might ask Nick [Allbrook, bandmate] to sub in for me later. After Rolling Stone buy me lunch.” His fighting words belie the calmness that exudes from Parker, the centre and controller of local psychedelic heroes Tame Impala. The parkland setting outside his label’s office is idyllic, and the Perth native is lying down on the grass face up, confessing to an evening spent with his bandmates and that most classless of companions: cheap wine. “I know – you’d think we’d at least have bothered to get something decent,” he shrugs. “We do have a new album, so that probably warrants us getting something that’s a touch classier. And I’m quite in love with this album, even more so than normal.”
I knew about ten seconds in to ‘Be Above It’, the opening track on Lonerism, that this album was going to be good. Just how good, though, wasn’t totally clear until halfway through track four, ‘Mind Mischief’, when I realised: really fucking good. The groove of that song – and the way the riff makes the guitar sound like it’s singing – is spectacular. The entire album is guided by the layered, at-times distorted harmonies of psychedelic warrior and frontman, Kevin Parker. He steers this magical mystery tour with the perfect balance of precision and whimsy.
The Presets may not be the first band you’d associate with deep, philosophical thinking, but on their third album, Julian and Kim definitely seem to be in reflective mode. The lyrics on Pacifica are filled with references to getting older and considering one’s place in the world.
Idea Of Happiness may not be the grand return that many were expecting after a four-year break for Van She. Three of its 11 tracks are instrumentals, and the rest feel so slight that they are at risk of up and floating away on the gentlest breeze. That may sound like a criticism, but it’s not really.