the hardest part is over

Sure, hindsight is 20/20. So call it a coincidence, ESP, intuition, or music magic, but there’s no denying that Tame Impala’s fourth album The Slow Rush, released just one month before the world shut down from the first wave of the pandemic, hits *very* on the nose for the year 2020. 

On top of the trancey rhythms you can get lost in and the instrumental loops curated to cater to any vibe, the repetitive-yet-balanced lyrics also show Kevin Parker’s true sorcery. 

One of the less popular hits when compared against singles like “Borderline,” “It Might Be Time,” and “Lost in Yesterday,” the song “On Track” is a particularly slow burn (or a Slow Rush lolz) that’s worth the build up. Opening with leisurely piano, Parker starts by painting a familiar scene:

I close my front door and turn on the light

I let out a breath and hold in a sigh

Ain’t nothin’ new, ain’t that much inside

And if I’m counting days

Dream fruition ain’t what it’s looking like

The poignant details of “counting days” and missed opportunities captures an all too familiar feeling for many of us in the darker days of quar. But what I love most about this song is its balance. The ebb and flow. The ability to allow a negative thought or feeling to sink in just long enough without wallowing, before accepting all feelings are cyclical. It’s evident in the very first lines, when he strikes a balance between a breath and a sigh, and continues in every verse and chorus.

Finding balance again between “minor setback[s]”, “los[ing] a wheel a while back,” and “trouble … falling in my lap,” Parker reminds us that with each challenge comes acceptance. He even admits he’s being a little overly optimistic (without falling into toxic positivity territory) each time he asserts “Strictly speaking, I’m still on track.” 

Listening activity: Recommend listening with headphones on for this one. Preferably over the ear, so you can soak it all in.

This song has become somewhat of a mantra for me. The earworm “but strictly speaking, I’m on track” is like a set of affirmations when the weight of comparing yourself to others’ journeys can feel like it’s crushing you. Especially in a moment where we’re all feeling robbed of time and life experiences.

He goes on to validate listeners’ feelings: “I know it’s been a slow year, nothin’ much to show here/ I didn’t really go for it, so not a lot to show for it.”

I mean, come on! These lyrics resonate deeply with those of us who didn’t have the energy in quarantine to try a sourdough starter kit, adopt a dog, or learn a new instrument. 

And for people still struggling to let out that sigh of relief when left alone with their thoughts, we have this song to hold out hope that “the rest gets easy.”

The hardest part is over, adjusting makes it slower

So glad you’re coming over, I want to bring us closer

The world ain’t waitin’ for ya’, nothin’ to lose it over

I just kept getting older, the rest gets easy

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