As its name indicates, “Currents,” Tame Impala’s most recent album, is one about change. Tame Impala itself, or rather Kevin Parker, has gone from a relatively underground psychedelic rock band to gold, platinum, and eventually worldwide renown with awards and honors like a Grammy nomination. Reflecting this rapid change in fans, fame, relationships, and style, “Currents” beginning first with moments of change with songs like “Let It Happen” and “The Moment,” realization of change with the aptly titled “Yes I’m Changing” and “Reality in Motion,” and a moment of introspection with the final song, “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”.
As the conclusion to a thematically dense album,”New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” in addition to having a killer bassline and dream-like vocals, offers a response to how to deal with change. Through questions, contrasts, and multiple perspectives, Tame Impala conveys the theme that although one will naturally be conflicted over whether or not their change was correct, change is still worthwhile because one desires to change and can learn from it.
“New Person, Same Old Mistakes” begins with the narrator asserting how they’ve found something new that’s changing their tastes. However, after this admission of change, the narrator raises the first contrast,
Two sides of me can’t agree,
that’s swiftly met with the question:
Will I be in too deep?
The contrast of sides introduces the theme that change brings internal conflict with it. The question then vocalizes the internal disagreements over the change. This doubt is then met with the response,
Going with what I always longed for,
that demonstrates the contrast between one’s doubts and longing. The first verse ends on this note, demonstrating that change causes internal conflict, although maybe conflict worth going for, as change may be what’s needed for fulfillment.
Tame Impala then uses constant shifts in perspectives from the chorus to articulate the doubts one has with change, biggest of all being whether or not one can and/or should change. The chorus begins with one voice repeating phrases like,
Feel like a brand new person
I don’t care, I’m in love
I finally know what it’s like
that Tame Impala interweaves with a more doubtful voice,
But you’ll make the same old mistakes
You don’t have what it takes
There’s too much at stake
These two parallel perspectives demonstrate both the ecstasy and self-doubt that change inspires: one feels both renewal and fear. However, one line from the first voice that stands out is “know what it’s like,” as it demonstrates a fundamental shift in character that unlike the love and feeling of newness, won’t fade.
The second verse then bounces back to the more optimistic voice that reinforces the intellectual and personal worth of change with a contrast:
The point is, I have the right
Not thinking in black and white
The contrast in the last line summarizes the point that even though the change may be frightening, it is ultimately an expression of one’s freedom and wisdom. After these lines, several more lines such as the repeated final line of the first verse reinforces the positives of change: one desire it and one learns from it.
After the repeat of the call-and-response chorus, the songs shifts to the more pessimistic voice, the one who calls the narrator “you,” who demonstrates the naturalness and knowledge gained by change. The voice sings,
But maybe your story ain’t so different from the rest
But you’ve got your demons, and she’s got her regrets
A realization is as good as a guess
These lines demonstrate the ultimate positives of change. The first two lines demonstrate how self-doubt is a part of the process of change while the following one demonstrates how change causes “realizations,” gains from change that can substitute for less-informed guesses.
After the bridge, the two voices return for the outro that reiterates the theme that change comes with self-doubt and the chance to fulfill one’s dreams and learn. The interspersed voices convey similar lines from the chorus, however most noticeably, the outro uses questions in much higher frequency,
So, how will I know it’s right?
So, how will I know if I’ve gone too far?
that Tame Impala mixes with the responding voice,
(Stop thinking that the only option).
These final uses of the dual voice and call-and-response demonstrates how change will always create both self-doubt and growth. The first line specifically illustrates the internal question evident in change. However, the response demonstrates how this doubt demonstrates that change isn’t the only option and that change is multifaceted and grows one’s knowledge to the point that they’ll have another option even if the change isn’t ultimately right.
In “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” Tame Impala uses questions and responses, more than one perspective, and contrasts that demonstrate how even though change will cause doubt and internal conflict, it is worth it because one desires it and can grow from it.