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Tame Impala Releases New Song on SNL

Tame Impala performed a new song, “Borderline,” on SNL. PHOTO/ YouTube SNL

By Carmen Saffioti

Published: April 3rd, 2019

Tame Impala, an indie rock band from Australia, released a new single during their Saturday Night Live (SNL) performance on Saturday. The psychedelic is known for their dreamy tracks like “The Less I Know the Better” and their new single “Borderline” fits exactly into their established sound. This new release comes just ahead of their appearance at Coachella, where they will be headlining. The band has not released a full-length album since 2015 and the last time they released an EP was in 2017. This new single could be teasing at much anticipated new music.

The performance kicked off with one of their fan favorites “Patience,” which was performed live for the first time. Front man Kevin Parker really displayed his talent as an instrumentalist. Singing in his signature falsetto voice, Parker begins using a maraca. Then, about two minutes and 30 seconds into the performance, he picks up his guitar to add a warm and melodic element. Compared to the studio version, the live performance had a slightly melancholic sound to it. Although the sound fits into the group’s hippie happy go lucky persona, the lyrics are actually quite sad. “Livin’ life in phases/Another season changes/And still, my days are shapeless” are the repeated lyrics in the chorus; they echo feelings of life regret and the pains of getting older. Overall, the first-time performance was decadent, and shows a new level of maturity for the band.  

Following “Patience,” Tame Impala surprised everyone by performing a never-before heard song “Borderline.” This new tune was a pick up from “Patience.” The fast tempo single, features a wide variety of instruments, but most importantly features the keyboard which several of the band members are playing during the song. The lyrics of the song seem to be about the psychedelic experiences of drugs, which fits in with the ambiance and aesthetic of the song. “I’m on the borderline, right between the tides of pain and pleasure” (since the studio version of this song has not yet been released, these lyrics may be incorrect), these lyrics could mean multiple things such as an experience with drugs or a positive transition in life. However, until the studio version of the song with the official lyrics are released, it will be difficult for fans to truly dissect the meaning. Instead, we can enjoy the song itself. 

My only critique of the performance was the “flatness” to it. It seems that the band wanted to play it safe rather than take a risk by adding a lot of energy to the performance. There are benefits and drawbacks to this strategy, the sound of Parker’s voice was phenomenal and sounded very similar to the studio versions. The music was also played close to perfectly, and it was clear that none of the members of the band wanted to mess up. However, visually, the only thing interesting was the psychedelic lights that were shining over the band as Parker and the rest of the band rarely moved.

If they added a bit more energy, this might have been the best SNL performance given this season. A possible reason they decided to play it safe is in response to Greta Van Fleet’s miserable performance a few weeks ago, in which the front man consistently failed to hit key notes and the other members were almost completely off with their playing. It is understandable, then, that Tame Impala did not want a similar SNL experience.   

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