Tame Impala, “Lonerism” (Modular)
Ty Segall, “Twins” (Drag City)
Two head-turning acts from summer Chicago festivals return with rewarding new albums this week. First, Tame Impala — an acclaimed Australian trio that played Lollapalooza’s first day in August — delivers a sophomore set that is the very opposite of a slump. “Lonerism” is still rife with the sheepish lyricism of the band’s bedroom beginnings (“Destined to be / lonely old me,” Kevin Parker sings in the swirling psychedelia of “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?”), but it’s much bolder than “Innerspeak,” their debut, both in its occasional use of careening Swervedriver guitar and the songs’ confident pop sensibilities. Rarely has a band reaped so much from the “Tomorrow Never Knows” side of Beatlesque-ness, and not just because Parker’s voice is often a dead ringer for full-on Leslie-cabinet Lennon. The heady swirl of the instruments, the obvious nods to Todd Rundgren’s “A Wizard, a True Star,” harmonic achievements that would bewitch Fleet Foxes — it’s a heady mixture and maybe not so tame, after all.
Collecting other pieces of “Revolver” for the slapdash assembly of his modern garage rock, the prolific Ty Segall — the wild, blond rock-and-roll savior from the final afternoon at July’s Pitchfork Music Festival — scrunches them, scratches them and hurls them into the crowd like broken bottles. The crusty jams on “Twins” aren’t actually as dirty as San Francisco’s Segall makes them sound; he’s become more of a studio professional and composer than he’d probably like us to think. That’s not surprising given how much time he spends therein — this is Segall’s third album this year, though since the other two were collaborations “Twins” serves as an official follow-up to last year’s comparatively mellow “Goodbye Bread.” The clunky stomp of these “Twins” is more vintage hard-rock than we’ve heard from him in a while, even when tempered by the ghostly, “O Brother” female vocals chanting the chorus of lead single “The Hill.”
In concert: Tame Impala returns Nov. 13 to Chicago’s Metro.