Best Tame Impala Songs: 15 Tracks Lost In Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

Always eclectic and genre-defying, Kevin Parker’s greatest songs have a truly timeless quality.

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Photo: Paul Bergen/Redferns

They’re a full band on stage, but ultimately Tame Impala is all about one man – Australian singer-songwriter, DJ, and producer Kevin Parker, whose singular artistic vision, multi-instrumental skills and studio smarts have led to him creating widely-acclaimed albums almost entirely under his own steam. Bold, diverse and yet always highly accessible, these albums – Innerspeaker (2010) Lonerism (2012) Currents (2015) and 2020’s Grammy-nominated The Slow Rush – have found favor with the critics and conquered the charts, so the best Tame Impala songs suggest serious music fans will need to talk about Kevin for many years to come.

Listen to the best Tame Impala songs now.

15: The Bold Arrow Of Time (Innerspeaker, 2010)

Kevin Parker has stressed that “I was terrified of doing anything other than what I knew how to do and what I liked listening to” when he made Tame Impala’s debut Innerspeaker. However, while his music has since gotten ever more sophisticated, Parker’s debut is still a thing of wonder on its own terms. Built upon a swerving guitar riff redolent of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love,” one of its highlights “The Bold Arrow Of Time” reflects Parker’s love of late 60s psychedelia and it remains a great introduction to the singular sound world of Tame Impala.

Tame Impala - The Bold Arrow of Time (Official Audio)

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14: Mind Mischief (Lonerism, 2012)

A Top 40 success on both sides of the Atlantic, Tame Impala’s second album Lonerism introduced Kevin Parker to the global audience he continues to command. Though still a result of Parker’s home studio set-ups, it sounded bigger and more confident than Innerspeaker, with the emphasis broadly shifting from guitars to synths and samples. The third of its three excellent singles, “Mind Mischief” was an especially flavorful slice of sun-kissed psych-pop accompanied by a memorably saucy promo video shot at a British sixth form college wherein a young male student fantasizes about his English teacher.

13: Disciples (Currents, 2015)

Tame Impala’s third album Currents moved further away from the hazy psychedelia of Innerspeaker and Lonerism and broadly adopted a more mainstream pop sound, partially inspired by his work on Mark Ronson’s Uptown Special. Parker’s lyrics were also atypically autobiographical, with some of them addressing the singer-songwriter’s then-recent relationship break-up. A case in point was the tantalizingly brief “Disciples,” in which Parker’s regret-fuelled lyric (“I used to take the long way, just so I could walk past your door/I used to wait outside, but I guess I won’t anymore”) contrasts brilliantly with the music’s upbeat, dancefloor-friendly groove.

12: Patience (Single, 2019)

Released ahead of Tame Impala’s fourth album, The Slow Rush, “Patience” served notice that Kevin Parker’s music was taking on an increasingly sophisticated hue. Citing the influence of Swedish super-producer Max Martin (Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Maroon 5), Parker told The Guardian that he wanted to “gradually break into the world of pop music,” and he gave it his best shot on “Patience”: a smooth, slinky retro-funk workout which somehow also sounded utterly contemporary.

11: Expectation (Innerspeaker, 2010)

In terms of structure, Innerspeaker’s third spin-off release “Expectations” does everything a would-be classic pop song probably shouldn’t do. Based around two repetitive chords and performed in a cyclical 6/4 time signature, it goes against the grain of what normally constitutes a great, radio-friendly pop song. Yet, in reality that’s exactly what it is. Indeed, even the stereo panning effects during the outro merely add to the thrill of experiencing the infectious, yet brilliantly wonky “Expectation” time and again.

10: Let It Happen (Currents, 2015)

In a 2020 interview with Uproxx, Kevin Parker confessed “If I’m on my own and I’ve got a pair of headphones on and I just put the first song on, ‘Let It Happen,’ I’ll probably end up listening to [Currents] the whole way through.” It’s not hard to hear why, either, for while the smooth, soulful “Let It Happen” actually sprawls to almost eight minutes in length, it exudes a mesmeric, dream-like quality which rapidly gets its hooks into the listener and refuses to let go.

Tame Impala - Let It Happen (Official Video)

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9: Elephant (Lonerism, 2012)

Tame Impala’s second album Lonerism is widely regarded as a more mainstream-inclined pop album than the preceding Innerspeaker. However, Kevin Parker’s love of late 60s psychedelia is still a big part of its DNA – and it’s certainly easy to detect on the album’s trailer single “Elephant,” which is anchored by a dirty, fuzzed-up guitar riff and a stomping glam-rock beat. Parker later revealed a little more about the song’s inspiration in a 2019 Beats 1 interview when he said “it’s how I always envisioned big, egotistical people who would march around. It’s kind of how a loner might see a jock – like an elephant!”

8: Borderline (The Slow Rush, 2020)

In an especially positive review of Tame Impala’s fourth album The Slow Rush, NPR marveled at the record’s “multi-level dimensionality,” and that’s certainly true of the record’s first single “Borderline”: a genre-defying, yet infinitely radio-friendly pop song that draws upon funk, reggae-style off-beats and house-y piano motifs, yet ends up sounding fresh and contemporary thanks to Parker’s studio smarts and his relentless quest for sonic reinvention.

7: Lucidity (Innerspeaker, 2010)

Opening with the wonderfully Syd Barrett-esque line “I know where you went, but I don’t know how you got there,” Innerspeaker’s second single “Lucidity” reflects Kevin Parker’s love of classic psychedelic pop. However, while the song’s trippy lyric was accentuated by its sky-kissing guitars – and a suitably fuzzed-up guitar solo – its melody was also highly accessible and it remains a live favorite to this day.

6: The Less I Know The Better (Currents, 2015)

In an interview with Under The Radar marking Currents’ release, Kevin Parker confessed that “I’ve been obsessed with disco for the last year or two.” That’s certainly apparent on the album’s final single “The Less I Know The Better,” which is driven by a Chic-esque bassline and pivots around a supple groove. By way of contrast, its lyric relates to an affair of the heart gone wrong (“Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side?/I don’t suppose you could convince your lover to change his mind?”), but the song’s sunny disposition wins through regardless and its global streaming figures (1 billion and counting) reflect its broad appeal.

5: One More Year (The Slow Rush, 2020)

NME described The Slow Rush’s opening track “One More Year” as Tame Impala’s “most intimate song to date” and that’s hard to refute, for this moody, synth-led song features a lyric mourning the passing of time (“But now I worry our horizon’s bare, nothing new/ ‘Cause I get this feeling and maybe you get it, too”) which Kevin Parker delivers in a voice steeped in regret. With hindsight, you might question the wisdom of choosing such an emotive track to head up an album, but “One More Year”s windswept beauty quickly wins through and, after a few plays, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect opening song for The Slow Rush.

Tame Impala - One More Year (Official Audio)

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4: Feels Like We Can Only Go Backwards (Currents, 2015)

Supported by a memorable Claymation promo video, Lonerism highlight “Feels Like We Can Only Go Backwards” captures Kevin Parker at his most playful. As Pitchfork sagely observed, the song was armed with the ability to “blow your brain back to its most joyous and least cynical recesses” and it remains a delicious slice of bouncy, kaleidoscopic pop leavened by a sprinkling of melancholy and just a pinch or two of Sergeant Pepper-era Beatles.

3: Solitude Is Bliss (Innerspeaker, 2010)

Kevin Parker earmarked “Solitude Is Bliss” as the first single from Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker debut because, as he said in one contemporary interview, “it was the most uplifting pop song.” He was bang on the money too, for “Solitude Is Bliss” dispels the hazy fug of psychedelia hanging over most of the album and instead opts for a punchy, direct and streamlined guitar-driven attack. It’s the ideal backdrop for this strident, empowering song celebrating Parker’s lone wolf approach to making music (“Nothing else matters, I don’t care what I miss/Company’s okay, solitude is bliss”) and it makes the important distinction between the artist choosing to be alone rather than feeling lonely because of his lifestyle choices.

2: Eventually (Currents, 2015)

The most direct of several songs on Currents addressing Kevin Parker’s then-recent split with his girlfriend, the French singer-songwriter Melody Prochet, Eventually examines the situation from the perspective of the person instigating the break-up. Elaborating further in an interview with Under The Radar, Parker admitted such actions can “damage someone almost irreparably,” so it comes as no surprise that “Eventually” is suitably downbeat. However, it’s also a compelling listen – a numbed-out, yet strangely dignified electro-funk creation which is simply riddled with regret.

1: Lost In Yesterday (The Slow Rush, 2020)

One of six singles eventually culled from Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush, “Lost In Yesterday” proved to be a landmark release as it was nominated for a Grammy Award and also topped Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs – marking the first time Tame Impala topped a U.S. airplay chart. With hindsight, Kevin Parker was deserving of the accolades, for “Lost In Yesterday” is one of his most beguiling creations to date – a dreamy amalgam of loose-limbed funk, ricocheting beats and smooth soul which still sounds unique today.

Tame Impala - Lost in Yesterday (Official Video)

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Listen to the best Tame Impala songs now.

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