Upon the first listen of Neon Indian’s new album, Era Extraña, I was speechless. Very few non-instrumental electronic albums manage to intrigue me, but I felt a love at first listen for the second record released by Alan Palomo under his Neon Indian moniker. Drawing from sounds like Boards of Canada and My Bloody Valentine, this chillwave album promotes a very user-friendly electronic pop sound. Neon Indian answers the call of its esteemed debut, Psychic Chasms.
The record is by no means cluttered, but it certainly is complex. What turns me off to many electronic albums is that the layers seem choke each out rather than create a dreamy flow with a noticeable rhythm. Neon Indian places the sounds in an orderly fashion, in such a way that the music truly flows well — there is no competition between the instruments to stand out above the rest or anything of the kind. The synths, guitars and bleeps in the music form a psychedelic collage over which Alan Palomo sings humbly. ‘Fall Out’ acts as a great summary of this. There is a lot going on, but it´s smooth like butter. The title and following track, ‘Era Extraña’, does the same, and boasts a solid 80s throwback production style.
There is a healthy balance of a diverse lineup of music in each song and consistent evenness throughout the record. The instrumental sections are far removed from anything remotely boring. The glitching is there, but not annoyingly placed or distracting. The mixing provides a wide sound across all planes and the production is tight enough to sound meticulous albeit wide enough to be dreamy.
What is truly beautiful about the album is the genius behind the keyboards, Alan Palomo. The songwriting is brilliant — I feel wrapped in a futuristic orchestra of electronic sound. It´s no wonder that Neon Indian has been invited to participate in tours with well known acts such as Massive Attack or occupy stage time in large music festivals such as the Sasquatch! Music Festival. It is deserved. If Palomo and crew can keep up with musical works like Psychic Chasms and Era Extraña, we could see them being headliners shortly.
Neon Indian’s sophomore full-length is a gateway album. Not for us, for him. From here, he can increase in skill and popularity. There isn´t anything to hold him back and he has everything within reach. The album glows with a dexterity in electronic music. But most impressive is that anyone from just about any music genre can get into it. While listening through, the names of many artists stood out to me, but in reality, Neon Indian retains its own unique sound while alluding to its influences. It pays subtle homage while drawing the listener into what is Era Extraña.
To me, that is a feat. Many new artists struggle to be themselves, and not that ‘one band that so and so saw before that other band (which is better) headlining the tour’.
In the end, Neon Indian´s second album is the accumulation of all that is great in the electronic genre in this day and age. It´s a well crafted album from ambitious minds. It´s an album that will carry its creators far in the end of the year; of that I am sure. It´s poppy enough to gather attention and unique enough to set it apart from other acts in its time. It really is released in its ‘era extraña’, that strange time where things start moving upward for the artist.