Kevin Parker can’t lose. And not in a your friend who says they’re really good at Settlers of Catan type of way — more like a Kawhi Leonard, win the NBA finals, build a new super team and earn an All-Star game MVP trophy all in one year kind of way.
A 34-year-old, Australian savant of psychedelia, Parker has spent the past five years becoming an international pop superstar.
After Tame Impala’s 2015 album, Currents, Parker’s fame skyrocketed in a way that rarely happens to any mid-career musician — let alone an indie rocker who lives in a hemisphere away from millions of his fans.
Now the band is a Coachella mainstay. And Parker regularly brushes shoulders with pop music royalty: He contributed to Kanye West’s Ye album, he co-wrote and produced parts Travis Scott’s Astroworld and even sat in on a session with Kendrick Lamar. Even Rihanna (Rihanna!) has covered a Tame Impala song.
But that’s the problem with getting famous for five years — it puts a lot of pressure on what you do next. That’s why it felt like the stakes were Oceans 12-level high for Parker when he announced The Slow Rush, Tame Impala’s first album since 2015.
And then, he delivered. The album, released last Friday, is a major, doubt-shattering success: It’s a commercial powerhouse; It’s a critical darling; It’s a subtler, more complex reflection from an artist at the peak of his musical powers.
Above everything, though, it’s a confirmation. The Slow Rush’s perfect landing cements Parker as a driving force in the pop music industry, which is a role he seems more than ready to assume.
“It’s funny, because every night I walk on stage, you know, in the few minutes before I step on stage, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, what am I doing?’ There’s a part of me that wants to run back to the dressing room,” Parker told Esquire this month, before explaining his ability to finally quell his self-doubt.
“There’s another part that’s like, ‘Come on, Kev’ — just dragging myself on stage. And then I walk offstage, feeling like a pop star in the best possible way.”
Now, Parker doesn’t just feel like a pop star. Thanks to his latest record, he is one — and he will be one for a long, long time.
The *also* most important
Three can’t-miss moments from the 2020 BRIT Awards: Usually, this section is a roundup of disparate moments from across the music world, but since the BRIT Awards were a lot this year, here are some highlights:
- Billie Eilish traveled to James Bond’s home court her first-ever live performance of the title track for the upcoming film, No Time To Die. The performance, like the song itself and like every odd detail Eilish has shared about the process of making it, is pretty great.
- Tyler the Creator called out former British prime minister Teresa May, who had infamously helped ban him from the country in 2015. Five years later, Tyler was accepting an award for Best International Male Solo Artist while May — who stepped down from the role in 2019 — was “at home, pissed off.”
- After weeks of covering each other’s songs and performing at pre-Super Bowl parties together, Lizzo and Harry Styles took their friendship to an even more adorable level.
Big bops, new tunes
The 1975 are getting even weirder: The beloved British rockers have a new album out this April, and if their latest single is any indication, it’s going to be pretty … wild. The new track, called “The Birthday Party,” features lyrics about Pinegrove’s sexual coercion controversy and a trippy, video game-like music video. But as always, The 1975 remain cuttingly clever, hilariously sardonic and powerfully melodic.
Social media flex of the week
James Harden and Russell Westbrook channel their inner Outkast: The two-team, two-time NBA teammates are the cover stars for GQ’s March issue, and the cover feels … familiar. Harden and Westbrook, undeniable fashion icons in their own right seem to be channeling (or tributing? or ripping off?) the cover Big Boi and Andre 3000’s classic album, Stankonia.