“The Less I Know the Better” by Tame Impala

Song of the Week

“The Less I Know The Better” by Tame Impala is a groovy song about unrequited love and the dreadful process of being strung along. I was surprised to find out that although Tame Impala’s music is intricate and has multiple instruments, it’s all written, performed and produced by one man, Kevin Parker. I chose this song for song of the week because even though it’s popular most people I’ve met don’t know what it’s about because he slowly oozes out his words. It’s the best sounding ooze I’ve ever heard but we still can’t hear him all that great. After not listening to the song for a while, I looked up the lyrics and the main theme at least seemed obvious. Through further investigation, I realized when listening to the striking song you can barely recognize what Parker is saying and that is where the confusion most people experience stems from.

Tame Impala” by New York + Philly Live! is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

The funky first verse opens up the plot with an embarrassing scene. “Someone said they left together / I ran out the door to get her / She was holding hands with Trevor / Not the greatest feeling ever”. In this scene Parker is out with a girl and she leaves with someone else. The entire song screams of unrequited love but he ran after her when she left which he wouldn’t have done unless he thought they were together or at least had something romantic going on. This is somewhat contradictory to the unrequited love theory because she loves him maybe? Side note, In an interview Parker commented that Trevor is not a specific person and just a filler name he used. The implied Trevor definition is an ingenuine guy who gets woman he does not seem to deserve.

The verse continues revealing the titles mysterious relevancy. “Said, ‘Pull yourself together / You should try your luck with Heather’ / Then I heard they slept together / Oh, the less I know the better”. At first, I thought this could be him talking to himself but in the rest of the song all he wants is this one girl so he wouldn’t tell himself to go after Heather. This must be Trevor! In the story line, they already left the location of the first verse but this could be days later or through texts. Either way, whoever is saying this is trying to comfort him no matter how unsuccessful they’re febal attempts. This is a friend and if it is also Trevor that gives this scene and extra sting to it because his own friend slept with the girl he liked.

Next is the chorus where Parker finally lets the reality of his situation sink in and decides he doesn’t want any part of it. “Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side? / No surprise when you’re on his shoulder like every night / Oh my love, can’t you see that your on my mind? / Don’t suppose we could convince your lover to change his mind? / So goodbye”. At this point, the girl he likes is fully with Trevor. He talks with her a little about how he cares but in the end he does what’s best for him and lets her go. Furthermore, His words in the fourth line seem very deliberate. His use of we stands out to me a lot. He isn’t asking her to change her mind but asking for her help to change Trevor’s? He is being intensely led on by this woman. Even when she is with another guy Parker feels like she is on his side somehow and would help demolish her own relationship with Trevor. It could be all in Parker’s head that she feels that way or it could be hinting at a deeper issue within the girl’s relationship. Maybe, She doesn’t care for Trevor as much anymore but feels pressure of some way to stay with him, social or otherwise. On the other hand, She most likely likes them both but can’t decide between them. Either way it is a very sucky situation for Parker and I’m glad in the end he says goodbye and gets himself out of that mess.

In the second and final verse you can feel the deadly hooks that she has in him in their lyrical conversation. “She said, ‘It’s not now or never / Wait ten years, we’ll be together’ / I said, ‘Better late then never / Just don’t make me wait forever'”. The indie artist is stuck in a tough place here. He clearly cares a lot about her or he wouldn’t be hanging around the way he is. She keeps dropping him little crumbs of hope, just enough for him to not move on. It is also obvious that this thing with Trevor is not serious. She must feel pressured to stay with him for some reason or at least that is what Parker believes. On the other hand, She could be an egotistical person that loves having a bunch of people obsessed with her and she doesn’t want to lose that. It is hard to tell so comment what you think it is but in the end it is most likely both.

The final part of the song is the outro where Parker expresses his exhaustion and distaste for this Trevor character. “I was doing fine without ya / Till I saw your face, now I can’t erase / Giving in to all his bullshit / Is this what you want? Is this who you are? / … / Oh, sweet darling, where he wants you / Said, ‘Come on, Superman, say your stupid line'”. The plot thickens! From here it looks like they have known each other prior to a romantic connection since he had a preconceived notion of who she was based on him asking if this is who she is now. It appears both of my theories from before are partially true. I’m sure she has some sort of ego if she is putting a friend through what Parker is feeling in the song but the line about putting up with Trevor’s bullshit points to a toxic fake relationship. That tips the scale away from the ego theory. The last line is one of my favorites. Superman is definitely supposed to be Trevor. She sees him as this superman because of the things he says but Parker notices that his actions do not match what he does. Therefore, concluding that his ‘lines’ are stupid. As we all know, actions speak louder than words. The songs melody and overall vibe sounds carefree and very go with the flow but in reality the meaning is much more serious. Well, That’s my perception of this song! Comment what you think the song is about!

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