Tame Impala’s Love/Paranoia Synth Sounds

In this article, I’ll look at Tame Impala’s Love/Paranoia, possibly the most underrated song from Currents. The song has an interesting arrangement, it isn’t comprised of a verse-chorus structure, it doesn’t even have a chorus. Instead, the song has three distinct sections; an R&B-influenced intro, a driven, indie-rock bridge, and an outro section with an epic, synthesized orchestra and delay-soaked guitars.

Sonically, Love/Paranoia has much in common with Eventually, which I covered previously this year. Like Eventually, Love/Paranoia makes heavy use of the Roland JV-1080 to create a 90s-inspired sound, with Kevin Parker’s trusty Roland Juno-106 also used for many of the tracks.

Below you can see my full remake, with all the synth sounds recreated using Roland Cloud JV-1080 and TAL U-NO-LX, a software emulation of the Roland Juno.

Juno Brass

Love/Paranoia opens with a synth brass track playing the chords Am | B ♭ | C | B ♭. The synth sound comes from the Roland Juno-106 with the chorus effect on, but it has been recorded in mono, which is done by using only one of the audio outputs, instead of both of the two outputs available.

To program this brass patch in TAL U-NO-LX, use a single sawtooth oscillator, set the cutoff frequency to 3.9, resonance to 6.6, envelope modulation to 2.2 and keyboard tracking to halfway. Make sure that VCA mode is in gate mode and set the ADSR envelope with an attack value of 3.4, decay at 4.2, full sustain and no release. Turn on the Chorus II effect to finish the patch.

00:00
  • Juno Brass - Stereo 00:00
  • Juno Brass - Mono 00:00
tame impala love paranoia synth

There is also a quiet JV-1080 patch playing from the beginning, which uses the PR-C: 017 Random Vowels patch. This layer is heavily high-passed to help it layer with the Juno brass sound. I added the high-pass at 960Hz which removes all the bass and lower midrange, just leaving the high-end.

00:00
  • JV-1080 Random Vowels 00:00
  • Juno + JV-1080 Layered 00:00
tame love paranoia vowels

Stacc Heaven

The bright bell sound that doubles the brass chords is the JV preset PR-D: 023 Stacc Heaven. The preset name implies that it’s a copy of the famous Roland D-50 patch Staccato Heaven (of Foreigner’s Say You Will and Rick Astley’s You Move Me fame) but the JV patch has a noticeably different sound.

The PR-D bank isn’t available on the JV-1080, only the JV-2080 and JV-1010, so it’s likely that Kevin Parker used the JV-1010, not the JV-1080 for Currents sounds. Luckily the PR-D bank and the Staccato Heaven preset are both available in the Roland Cloud JV-1080 plugin. The Stacc Heaven patch in Love/Paranoia has been brightened with EQ and heavily stereo-widened. For my remake, I used iZotope Ozone Imager 2 with the width control at 100%.

00:00
  • Stacc Heaven 00:00
love/paranoia synth

The choir chords that play when the drums are introduced sound like sampled vocal ‘aahs’ that have been recorded by Kevin and retriggered, likely through Ableton’s Sampler device. It has a very synthetic quality, so I think that his sampled choir was then layered with a JV-1080 patch, possibly the PR-C: 025 Vox Panner preset. Unfortunately, my voice sounds nothing like Kevin’s, so I only used the Vox Panner preset in my remake.

tame love paranoia choir

Bass

The bass in Love/Paranoia has a dark, sustained sound, which unfortunately makes it hard to hear clearly. Upon many, many listenings, I think it’s a cello or double-bass style JV-1080 patch, as it has a certain ‘bowed’ quality to the sustain portion of the sound. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a JV-1080 patch that perfectly fit, but I found the PR-B: 014 Nylon Bass patch got me close enough to use in my remake. I layered this with a subbier TAL U-NO-LX patch and I played live bass guitar in the bridge section.

tame love paranoia bass

Pad

A pad track is introduced at the 0:43 mark, and this plays the chords Fmaj7 | B♭maj7 | Am/F | B♭maj9. The pad synth has a distinctive mid-range sound created by boosting the filter resonance, which combines with the chorus effect to create a nasal, honky sound.

00:00
  • Juno Pad 00:00
tame love paranoia pad

I also layered in the JV-1080 patch PR-A: 048 Mellow Bars for my remake, which helped make the patch sound thicker. Mellow Bars is a sampled, B-3 style organ patch, and I ran it through a low-pass filter to cut out the high end and help layer it with the Juno pad sound. The organ patch is significantly lower than the Juno patch in my final layered sound.

00:00
  • JV-1080 Mellow Bars 00:00
  • Layered Pad Sound 00:00
tame love paranoia organ

Juno Leads

The bridge section introduces two Juno lead melodies, which are panned separately left and right to create a wide sound.

The first patch is a standard keys patch using a single sawtooth wave with both filters set to mid-way to thin out the sound. My TAL U-NO-LX patch is in ENV mode and the ADSR envelope setting has a long decay and release time with no sustain, resulting in long, fading notes. The Chorus I effect is used for this patch, and apart from some light EQ and compression, the track is very dry.

00:00
  • Juno Lead 1 00:00
tame love paranoia lead 1

The second patch is richer sounding and plays a four-note melodic tag at the end of each two-bar phrase. This is another single sawtooth patch, but this time the filters are between 6 and 7 with resonance at 4.5 for a nice, bright sound. The Chorus II effect is on, and I’ve used EQ to brighten the track.

00:00
  • Juno Lead 2 00:00
  • Layered & Panned 00:00
tame love paranoia lead 2

These lead parts are joined by the return of the Stacc Heaven JV-1080 patch from earlier in the song. The sound on Love/Paranoia is much brighter than the dry JV-1080 sound, so the treble has been boosted considerably. Normally EQ would be used for this, but I got better results from using Ableton Live’s Multiband Dynamics device, with the high split frequency compressed and boosted by 10dB.

00:00
  • Stacc Heaven 00:00
  • Stacc Heaven + Leads 00:00
tame love paranoia multiband

Orchestral Parts

After the bridge section, there is an orchestral break similar to the one heard in Eventually, where all of the orchestral layers come from factory JV-1080 patches. These have been processed with varying levels of EQ to brighten the sound.

The first orchestral sound is a cheesy fake brass patch that plays chords; I think that this is a layered sound using the PR-B: 127 Tpt Sect patch processed with stereo widening and the PR-B: 126 2Trumpets patch with some filtering to take off the high-end. Here’s what that combination sounds like:

00:00
  • Orchestra 1 00:00
tame love paranoia 2trumpets

A high violin melody plays long notes using the PR-C: 040 String Ens patch, which I brightened using multiband compression in the same way as the Stacc Heaven patch used in the bridge. This high melody line plays throughout the rest of the song.

00:00
  • Orchestra 2 00:00
tame love paranoia strings

The main descending orchestral melody comes from the JV-1080 PR-C: 045 Film Octaves patch, which is doubled with a higher octave version of the melody playing in the left channel and a lower version playing in the right channel. This octave doubling technique results in a huge, wide sound that suits the epic effect that Kevin Parker was trying to achieve here.

00:00
  • Film Octaves Low 00:00
  • Film Octaves High 00:00
  • Layered & Panned 00:00
tame love paranoia film

Finally, there is a lower orchestral patch in the mix holding down some low bass notes. For my remake, I used the PR-C: 043 ViolinCello preset.

00:00
  • Orchestral Bass 00:00
  • Full Orchestra 00:00
tame love paranoia orch bass

Bringing It All Together

Kevin tends not to use guitar amps for recording, and the lead guitars in Love/Paranoia have a distinctive, DI sound. Although Kevin Parker would have used his pedalboard before hitting the audio interface, I instead recorded completely dry and added effects afterwards. In order, I used Ableton’s Delay effect set to 230ms with feedback at 51% for a short but heavy delay.

Then, I added vibrato from Ableton’s Chorus-Ensemble effect set to about 6%, followed by compression and reverb from Soundtoys Little Plate set to a short decay and 14% wet.

One of the main elements is setting vibrato and compression after the delay effect, which results in lots of sustain. Compare the dry guitar signal to the processed signal below:

00:00
  • Guitar DI 00:00
  • Guitar EQ'd 00:00
  • w/Slapback Delay 00:00
tame love paranoia guitar

Download

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out my remake of Eventually, which also uses custom TAL U-NO-LX presets alongside JV-1080 factory presets. You can download the TAL U-NO-LX patches from this Love/Paranoia remake below, feel free to use them in your own music.

My Love/Paranoia presets are also included in the Synth Sounds Collection, a free preset pack collecting the synth presets from all of my articles in one download.

If you want to dive deeper into my remake of Love/Paranoia, then consider supporting the site by becoming a Patreon supporter, which gives you access to the Ableton Live 11 project, MIDI files and multitrack stems for this remake and as well as all of my previous Tame Impala remakes.

Header artwork by Makarxart

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Comments on Tame Impala’s Love/Paranoia Synth Sounds

3 thoughts on “Tame Impala’s <em>Love/Paranoia</em> Synth Sounds”

  1. can’t believe how spot on you get these Tame Impala synths!! Any clue what lead synth he uses on the Let it happen deezer session at 5:07? A LIH article would be to die for!!

  2. Amazing work as usual! I’m really hoping you get to some Slow Rush songs soon, particularly Posthumous Forgiveness.

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