Psychedelia is back – and this time it’s telling you to take a step back, breathe, and look at the bigger picture.
At the mention of psychedelia it’s impossible not to think about the likes of Jefferson Airplane, LSD, hippies …I could go on. Sure, it’s all been done before back in the 60s. That was very much 60s’ psych, and to say the genre “is back” boldly suggests the same thing is happening again. Sorry to crush any dreams folks; it’s not and it never will be.
But – and this is one big but – psychedelia is making a comeback in popularity in a whole new way; this time, we’re being told to stop stressing and start living. Take a look around you, see what really matters; who really matters. So, to keep it concise, this article is a handful of songs, each from a different album released from 2015 onwards. Whack them on loud and you won’t regret it.
Tame Impala is the elephant in the room here. Released in 2015, their album Currents adopts a zen acceptance of “what will be, will be” – not to forget some addictively seductive funk. With a catchy repetition of lyrics in ‘Eventually’ Kevin Parker sings about a break-up, with a knowing reassurance, “I know that I’ll be happier, and I know you will too”, before pausing to emphasise the influx of synth and lingering lyric, “eventually”. There’s an understanding that things will get better, wait it out, be patient and all this will pass.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra attack from an entirely different angle but with equal funk, way more clapping percussion and so many keyboard variations it won’t get old in a rush. ‘Can’t Keep Checking My Phone’, also released in 2015, gets across the need to constantly be checking social media, refreshing pages, counting likes. The looped lyrics only emphasise Neilson’s seeming attempt to break the cycle, to stop checking his phone, but the cycle doesn’t break and the lyrics keep going round.
“Sometime soon this generation / is going to see its own reflection” Levitation Room’s Julian Porte sings in upbeat, beach boys-esque tones. ‘Strangers Of Our Time’ is a call for our generation (the millennials) to stop being a stranger to all the things this planet has to offer – initiate change, grab opportunities and just get out there. For those who love the Beatles, the Kinks and 60s psych pop, this “summer of love” styled approach might just be one for you.
“Nuclear fusion / All the programming couldn’t break us / Exponentially heightened power / We’re essentially one being / All the programming couldn’t tear us / From eventually building tightly / We’re essentially one being / Nuclear fusion” King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s song ‘Nuclear Fusion’ is as whacky as the album name Flying Microtonal Banana suggests. The lyrics, though, are decisively in tune with the mood of the moment. It’s not necessarily an easy listen, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. There’s a need to restore faith in our humanity; especially with the world being an undeniably scary place to live in currently, we need to stand together. “Programming” can’t break us, and nor should we be fed what to believe; have faith in yourself and others. “We are essentially one being” King Gizzard repeats, and it’s hard not to feel there is a subliminal message here.
By Lily Draper
Elephant Stone‘s 2016 single ‘Where I’m Going’, like Tame Impala’s ‘Eventually’, embraces change. This track understands that “nothing ever lasts forever” – make of this what you want, and ultimately, the good and the bad will both pass. Everything you’d want from psych groove, this song has an other worldly feel about it with some trippy keyboard synths thrown in for good measure.