Tame Impala arrive in London on a wave of hype and success. Recent second album, Lonerism, was well received commercially and hysterically received critically, tonight's show is a sell out and messianic lead singer Kevin Parker is smiling. After technical frustrations left last year's gig at the Roundhouse an underwhelming and inaudible affair, Tame Impala have something to prove.
Support comes from Young Dreams, giving the first but by no means the last dose of dreamy pop. The Norwegian band are clearly head over heels in love with The Beach Boys but rather than endless sibling tension and infighting, they inherit their idols' knack for warm, summery pop. Fitting nicely within the trend of bands such as Fleet Foxes and Summer Camp who blend lush harmonies and clever finger picking, Young Dreams fill the Brixton Academy with gleeful melodies and enchanting songs. Dream Alone, Wake Together is particularly uplifting. Expect them to dominate next summer's festival circuit.
Tame Impala arrive onstage amidst a sudden flurry of psychedelic imagery, and immediately launch into Lonerism's opening track Be Above It. It is a statement of intent; the band is focused and tight, weaving layers of percussive energy, shimmering synths and crashing guitars around Parker's light and dreamlike vocals. Their sense of confidence is immediate and what follows over the next hour is a loving paean to the Tame Impala gods - Marc Bolan, John Lennon and Kevin Smith. More focused than 90s shoegaze and more structured than 60s psychadelica, Tame Impala take these influences and craft something bewitching. At times they falter beneath the weight of such recognisable lodestars but with songs such as Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Desire Be Desire Go, they go beyond homage into a surging and sighing, melodic and hypnotic territory which is entirely their own.
The risk for a band so in awe of their idols is that consciously emulating them can dilute the creative process, replacing passion with devotion. But recent single Elephant seems to be a seminal moment for the band. With Jay Watson sharing writing duties, it has a sinewy and menacing quality, allowing the band to unleash three minutes of distorted bluesy rock quite unlike anything they have done before. Amidst the sprawling synths, they pack a punch when they want to.
But that's not what they're about, and for everyone who has clutched a copy of Loveless or Psychocandy to their chest, Tame Impala offer a comfortingly familiar sound. London bands Tamaryn and It Hugs Back may be experimenting within the same genre to greater and more unpredictable effect but, with two albums under their belt, Tame Impala have enough material to construct a continuously entertaining set that culminates in a genuinely euphoric encore of Half Full Glass of Wine. Parker is left standing, arms aloft, in complete control of an adoring crowd. As the floor shakes with pulsing synths and throbbing bass, the band leave with the sense that Australia's finest purveyors of dream pop could one day become more than the sum of their parts.