The childlike element of ’60s psychedelia hasn’t translated as much to the contemporary psych-rock scene. Watch Roky Erickson documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me or spend any time delving into the solo discography of Syd Barrett, and you get a sense of these psych-rock pioneers as big, innocent kids (among other peculiarities). But anything that smacks of stuffed-animal softness these days has to either fight or embrace derision for being “twee.” Hence when MGMT wanted to sing about a lost icon, they picked twee-pop godfathers the Television Personalities’ Dan Treacy, although in an earlier time it made sense for the TPs to sing that “I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives.”
Former MGMT tourmates Tame Impala certainly don’t aim to change any of that in their new video for Todd Rundgren-remixed fuzzbox-stomper “Elephant,” but there’s a spirit of bedside imaginativeness at play in their recordings that expands on an earlier generation’s whimsy. The Australian psych-rock juggernauts’ new album, due out October 9 in the U.S., is even called Lonerism — this is not music that evinces bottle service. New York-based director Yoshi Sodeoka runs live footage by Aussie creative collective the Silentlights through swirling, analogue-style effects, complementing the song even better than the spacey imagery that accompanied its original premiere.
It’s the kind of spirit that had even Winnie the Pooh tripping out about elephants — ‘cept he called ’em “heffalumps” — by 1968. Who knows where Tame Imp frontboy Kevin Parker lives?