The one genre tag that Tame Impala, Australia’s preeminent rock band, are saddled with, it’s “psychedelic rock”. The swirl sounds, the eclectic and disorienting mix of synths and guitars, the band’s light show, and the reverb-heavy production of the band’s albums all contribute to their reputation as the master of modern psychedelia. And when you talk about psychedelia, it’s impossible not to mention The Beatles.
The Liverpool lads first dipped their collective toes into the nascent world of psychedelic rock on 1965’s Rubber Soul, where their pop styles mix with soul, folk, and traditional Indian music, laying the groundwork from which their contemporaries and influences would take inspiration. By the time work commenced on Revolver, the band were fully ensconced in the psychedelic experience, including the use of LSD.
So naturally, one would assume that it was the albums of the band’s explicit psychedelic era, like Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, or Magical Mystery Tour, would have made the biggest impact on Impala leader Kevin Parker. But as it turns out, Parker was smitten with one of their later works.
“Abbey Road by the Beatles was another one of my favourites,” Parker told Vogue in a past interview. When asked to elaborate in a Vulture interview the same year, Parker backpedalled on the Beatles comparisons. “I love the Beatles, but I don’t listen to them at all regularly.”
“Most of my friends are bigger Beatles fans than I am,” Parker explained. “I respect them and I love them — Abbey Road is probably one of my favorite albums, but I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the White Album the whole way through. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to Sgt. Pepper’s the whole way through. I’d say most of the rest of the world are bigger Beatles fans than me. They’d know more of the songs and more of the lyrics — I don’t really know that stuff. I just respect them.”
While this might come as a bit of a shock that the righteous heir to Sgt. Pepper’s kaleidoscope of sounds isn’t actually all that familiar with the album, his appreciation of Abbey Road highlights Parker’s love of vibrant production. The layers of vocals, the variety of styles, and the pristine quality of the recordings are all elements that Parker replicates in his own music, and if you’re an audiophile, it’s hard to get better than Abbey Road.
Parker seems more like a John Lennon solo kind of guy, to be fair. Here he is covering ‘Jealous Guy’ back in 2020.