Tame Impala: it’s actually 2 guys. Lonerism (10 Year Anniversary Edition / Unreleased Demos)

In today’s music discourse, it’s a common misconception that Tame Impala is “just one guy.” You can mostly get by on this idea since Kevin Parker is solely responsible for the vast majority of the discography; however, you may be surprised to learn that Kevin Parker had some help writing some of your favorite tracks.

Today, with the release of Lonerism (10 Year Anniversary Edition / Unreleased Demos), a new voice emerges, spotlighting the presence of Tame Impala’s second member: Jay “Gumby” Watson. You may recognize Gumby from the band Pond or his lesser-known solo project GUM- heck, maybe you’ve caught him live on tour with Tame Impala. He’s had a long history with Parker, co-writing two of the most well-known tracks on Lonerism: “Apocalypse Dreams” and “Elephant.” He also is responsible for the synth interlude that appears at the end of “The Bold Arrow Of Time” on InnerSpeaker. GUM also released “Race To The Air” this week, the first single teasing towards his 6th album. So, if you haven’t gotten enough Aussie-psych rock for the week, be sure to check it out.

Before I go too far, these are the goods. A compilation of sketches from Lonerism Era. It’s so beautiful, I could cry.

Now, let’s talk about the “official” demo tracks.

“Retina Show”

Surging synths and powerful backbeats become a glamorous stage for the grandiose vocal performances of Kevin Parker and Jay Watson (GUM) on “Retina Show.” 

We get a little bit of Todd Rundgren’s “International Feel” in the keyboard intro and vocals.
We get a little bit of “Apocalypse Dreams” in the buildups and breakdowns.
We get a little bit of “Music To Walk Home By” in the rapidly arpeggiating synths.
We get a lot of Lonerism.

As the track explodes into gooey psych-rock goodness, Parker and Watson weave in and out with their own segments of the track. The sounds of Parker’s vocals sweep across the track, enveloping the listener in glistening psychedelia before falling behind a haze of synths. Gumby’s chorus bounces into action, keeping the song flying forward. All throughout the track, the drums and guitar share a sense of rhythm that just makes you wanna dance, almost as if we’re listening to the track in a discotheque from the 70s.

“Sidetracked Soundtrack”

A flare of guitar kicks off this track, sending us rocketing out along the hypnotic banger. The melody continues this way until it “sidetracks,” and our attention shifts towards a stream of synthesizers. Suddenly, drums begin to pound, that fiery guitar line comes back, and we get pulled back into the track with full intensity as Parker reappears in the splendor of echoed hallucinogenic vocals as if we’d just stumbled across a lost Beatles tape.

The song feels fast-paced, cutting forward into new directions while keeping the same components that make it interesting in the first place. What truly captivates me is that moment when Kevin Parker’s vocals emerge, acting as the culmination of the track’s gradual buildup. Afterwards, the track begins to drum off in a new direction, ending as if “sidetracked” once again.

To say the least, I’m ecstatic about these new tracks. Lonerism is one of my favorite albums of all time and to get a little more of it is a dream fulfilled. The star song of the release for me was definitely “Retina Show” but I really enjoyed “Sidetracked Soundtrack” too. I must’ve spun the tracks 20 times each already.

Listen to the new demos below!

The Lonerism 10th Anniversary 3LP which includes these unreleased demos is available here.

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