“Men Are From Mars – Or At Least Your College Dorm Room”: On Tame Impala

Today we’re examining the phenomenon of Tame Impala – specifically, their song “The Less I Know The Better.” It’s basically your art student friend’s sound. Spare, electronic beat accompanied by a wavering male voice.

Lyrically, TLIKTB is written from the classic perspective of a man scorned. “Someone said they left together/I ran out the door to get her/She was holding hands with Trevor/Not the greatest feeling ever.” It’s all about college gossip, and trying to get with the girl you like. The whole tone of the song is desperation: “Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side/No surprise when you’re on his shoulder like every night.”

That extra “like” in this particular lyric is especially interesting. It emphasizes how much of an exaggerated perspective the narrator has for the whole situation. Yet it also feminizes his tone (like, y’know, like?) and aligns him more closely with the woman he dismisses.

There’s another contrast later in the song. Kevin Parker writes, “So goodbye” as if to cut this woman out of his life. However, almost immediately after this, this woman tells him to “wait 10 years, we’ll be together.” To which he responds, “Better late then never/just don’t make me wait forever.”

The push-pull of their relationship emphasizes its immaturity. He wants her, but when he can’t have her, it’s “so goodbye.” But when she tells him they’ll end up together, he’s all for it.

Who’s really in control here, then? Parker wants to be, by slut-shaming the girl for going out with this “Trevor” guy instead of him. Ultimately, though, the girl of the song is revealed to have power over him: 10 years, for Parker, doesn’t seem that long of a wait.