There's a half-remembered quality to Kevin Parker's songs for Tame Impala. Melodies and rhythms arrive in thunderclaps — carefully orchestrated or artfully accidental — or float by in soothing clouds. These are the epiphanies and freakouts of decades past: soul, space rock, nerd funk, studio-whiz pop. You feel sure you recognize something, but you don't quite know from where or when.
For Parker, that quality is the point. Traveling the world with Tame Impala for the past five years, the 29-year-old Australian musician has captured song ideas and the ambient sounds of touring in his head, on his phone, with whatever's handy. A home recorder since age 12, he works in the studio largely on his own: Tame Impala is his way of making sense (or not) of experience. His first two albums were a fun-house tour of rock's psychedelic corners; even at its loudest, the music always had a languorous, contemplative quality. Yet the sound of Currents, Tame Impala's third studio album, goes further, evoking Prince more than Pink Floyd. The guitar rides in the back, the keyboards up front. The beats have a synthesized snap even when they're live drums, and even the dreamiest tracks pack a pop bounce.