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Today we’re going to cover the songwriting tips we can learn for our own music from Tame Impala’s “The less I know the better”. We will start by analyzing the song first and then we’ll go over the 5 songwriting tips that we can apply to our own music.

The Band

In order to understand this song we first have to understand the origin of the band.

In case you are not already aware Tame Impala is really one person, Kevin Parker, who writes, records and produces all the music for the band.

Tame Impala’s sound comes from a background rooted in psychedelic rock but is also mixed with dreamy pop, electronic and R&B embellishments. This background is clearly reflected in the songwriting as well, which you will notice as we move forward.

Let’s start with the song structure.

Song structure:

The image below shows the song structure for this song.

Song Structure for Tame Impalas The Less I Know the Better
  • Intro starts with the hook bass line
  • Verse with vox
  • Prechorus (when he says the title line “the less I know the better”)
  • Chorus (with the line ”oh my love can’t you see yourself by my side?”)
  • Post Chorus (would be when he repeats “so goodbye” and the hook bassline starts again)
  • Verse
  • Prechorus (repeats the line “don’t make me wait forever”)
  • Chorus
  • Bridge until the end (I was doing fine without you)

As you can see the structure is a pretty simple pop structure. The only thing I notice different here is that the song ends with the bridge, which we could say sounds like an extended version of the chorus as it uses many of the same chords. Other than that, it is a pretty straightforward pop song structure.


One thing that is interesting about this Tame Impala song is that even though it’s very simple, the rhythm is the main driver of this song.

Rhythm analysis for Tame Impalas The Less I Know the Better

If you listen to the drums you’ll notice that:

  • Kick drum is on the 1 and 3
  • Snare is on the 2 and 4
  • Hihat is doing 8th notes
  • This allows the drums to give a very grounded solid feeling that moves the song forward and is easy to dance to
  • Bass, drums, and vox drive the groove of the song

Chord Progression:

Below you will see the chords for Tame Impala’s “The less I know the better”. We’ll use it to analyze the chord progression and see what is really going on and what decisions were taken to make this progression. You’ll notice in the chord chart that each section has the following chords:

  • Verses vi, V, iii of Emaj (C#m, Bmaj, Emaj, G#m7)
  • Chorus I, vi of Emaj and a Dmaj that is borrowed from E Mixolydian (Emaj7, C#m, Dmaj)
  • Bridge I, iii, vi, IV of Emaj (Emaj7, G#m7, C#m, Amaj)

Overall the song is in Emaj but it starts on the vi chord (C#m)

When they hit the Dmaj in the chorus they borrow that Dmaj from E Mixolydian to give a psychedelic dreamy feel as their roots come from psychedelic rock and the Mixolydian mode matches this aesthetic quite well.


Textures are a big part of Tame Impala’s sound due to their psychedelic background. You’ll notice this song has:

  • Dreamy string synths and bells
  • Clean guitar
  • Spacey vocals with reverb and delay that groove with the bass and the drums

As mentioned earlier, the rhythm helps to ground the song, which is especially important given these psychedelic textures.

Vox and Lyrics:

Let’s take a look at the vocals and the lyrics.

Someone said they left together
I ran out the door to get her
She was holding hands with Trevor
Not the greatest feeling ever
Said, “Pull yourself together
You should try your luck with Heather”
Then I heard they slept together
Oh, the less I know the better
The less I know the better

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 you’re on my mind
Don’t suppose we could convince your lover to change his mind
So goodbye

She said, “It’s not now or never
Wait ten years, we’ll be together”
I said, “Better late than never
Just don’t make me wait forever”
Don’t make me wait forever
Don’t make me wait forever

Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side?
I don’t suppose you could convince your lover to change his mind
I was doing fine without you
‘Til 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?

Bridge/Chorus hybrid:
I was doing fine without you
‘Til I saw your eyes turn away from mine
Oh, sweet darling, where he wants you
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”

A few things that jump out right away are:

  • The vocal melody is in Emaj the entire song, save for the Dmaj where it emphasizes the borrowed E mixolydian.
  • The vox melody travels up and down the scale so it is not a one note melody as is common in modern pop music.
  • The vox comes in with pickup notes for ever section of the song (that means that the vox comes in before the instruments in every section begin).
  • The lyrical content is nostalgic and wishful.
  • It tells a relatable story about a high school guy who lost a girl to an athlete and he can’t get over her.
  • The verses describe the outside story/situation while the chorus describes his inner dialogue. This is shown in the chorus with the line “oh my love can’t you see yourself by my side?” He is talking to her in his head and realizes he has to let her go.


This I found to be the most interesting part of this song given that the dynamics are not done by the drums (and this is probably the most important lesson here). There are no cymbals or rides used in this song and the kick and snare are pretty much the same the entire song.

Instead the dynamics are created by the production and the songwriting. This is done through the vocals, the adding and subtracting of instrument layers, the pitch of vocals and instruments, and the storyline of the lyrics.

Another thing to note is that the verses seem intense and high energy while the chorus is more laid back and lower energy. This is the opposite of what a standard pop song formula usually follows which traditionally would make the chorus the high energy point of the song and the verses lower energy. Just goes to show you that you can tweak the guidelines and have a great song if you do it tastefully.

Songwriting tips for your songs

So what we can learn from this song for our own music?

  1. Basslines and rhythms can be the hooks in your songs (as opposed to the melodies or lyrics). This song focuses on being danceable which grounds the spaceyness and psychedelicness to make it digestible for the average listener.
  2. Good storytelling. This song also tells a relatable story that many people can connect with. It romanticizes the nostalgia of high school crushes and heartbreak using a dreamy vintage aesthetic which is very popular in modern pop culture.
  3. Clear psychedelic vocals. Although the vocals have heavy delay and reverb (which is common in the world of psychedelic rock), they also have the clarity of pop vocal production, making them easy to understand. It lets us appreciate Kevin’s voice while the effects add ambience.
  4. Ambient textures can make a huge difference in your sound and are a staple in Tame Impala. Consider adding ambient textures into your songs to give an added dimension to your music.
  5. Dynamics can be done through the songwriting, the instrumentation, the production, and the story of the song not only through varying the intensity of the drums.
Songwriting tips from Tame Impala's The Less I Know the Better

Final thoughts

Due to the lack of guitars I’d say this song was made first with the rhythm section then the chords were put in with a keyboard then the vocals. Lastly the guitar plays more of an embellishing role.

This song is driven by rhythm more than anything, and this makes sense as Kevin’s first instrument was drums.

That’s all for today. Hope this analysis has helped you see the lessons you can learn from this song for your own songwriting. Be sure to let us know what you liked most about the tips shared and stay tuned for the next one.

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