Despite managing to be pretty much universally liked and achieving significant critical acclaim across both their debut album and now this one Tame Impala still seem to be a band it is easy to take potshots at.
"Vocalist Kevin Palmer sounds like John Lennon. If I wanted to listen to (insert your choice of experimental / progressive Beatles album here) then I would just listen to it. It's nothing but a prog rock revival."
The reality is that there is truth to all of this but it could as easily be levelled at a number of the last decade's great bands. Oasis peddled Beatles knock-offs for years and their takes mostly weren't even any good. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the whole Retromania swirl and just end up confused, tangled up in questions of legitimacy.
Tame Impala's debut album Innerspeaker was good, but Lonerism is that rare kind of confident and assured sophomore release: it does everything that the last one did, but better. It also sounds like Parker is more comfortable in his sound, and that enables him to add more too it.
There is plenty of wizardry hidden down behind these tracks. The plunging depths of 'Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could' is one example, where all the treble drops away and we are left with the voices inside Palmer's head, before blasting off into a stratospheric conclusion of clattering drum solos. Or, on the other end of the album, the locked rhythmic groove of 'Be Above It' that opens this disc.
The technical ability of the players and the production undoubtedly hold an element of the attraction here but importantly this is also a record of great songs. Palmer is clearly obsessed with alone time and it comes through in the lyrics and titles of the tracks here. His alienation provides the milieu for much of what you will hear on this album and when Tame Impala hit their groove there really isn't anything like them.
Lonerism like its predecessor is an album that handles repeated listening with ease - there is so much to take in that it is hard not to reach for the rewind button before songs even reach their end. 'Why Won't They Talk To Me' is a wistful helter skelter ride of a track, the explosive synthesisers whirling around like Catherine wheels whilst 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards' captures the lack of inertia it describes, thick and heavy. Both demonstrate a high-point for the band and it's difficult not to be excited for what comes next.
If you want to remain fixated on poking at the audible inspiration here or pick out all the reference points in an attempt to unravel the whole blanket feel free. Hip-hop records these days ride free of such comparisons - The Grey Album sampled the same songs as inspire here are held up high. Lonerism is one of the tightest, most enjoyable records you will hear this year, and maybe that should be enough.