2009 saw the release of Alan Palomo’s debut album under the guise Neon Indian. The album entitled Mind Ctrl: Psychic Chasms Possessed received much critical acclaim including being lauded with the prestigious stamp of Pitchfork’s ‘Best New Music’. Psychic Chasms was the embodiment of a dope induced trip with such songs as ‘Laughing Gas’ and ‘Should Have Taken Acid With You’ acting as strong indicators of this. Earlier this year Palomo teamed up with The Flaming Lips for a highly experimental EP which asked the question ‘Is David Bowie Dying?’ and acted as an indicator for the ensuing change in sound.
You will be excused for thinking that Era Extraña would show a progression from chillwave to a more psychedelic genre. This is in fact not the case as the transition has lead to Palomo creating something full of streamlined, radio-worthy melodies, which in places has a truly exquisite effect. The mesmerising synth brilliance of the album takes off in such intergalactic mind-fuckery as ‘Hex Girlfriend’ and ‘Suns Irrupt’. The former tells of “Tired eyes hypnotized by your teenage sect” and how “Slow burn fades into a dream”. Endemic are the other-worldly sound effects coupled with the backbone of guitars combining to form a hybrid, mythical creature-esque feel (think part unicorn part T-Rex).
‘Future Sick’ carries the theme of a stream of consciousness embedded in such lyrics as “Still I dream” which is fleshed out with more than its fair share of synth-sculduggery. The yearning love-sick tone of the record reaches its high point (or emotional low point) in ‘Fallout” in which Palomo confesses to owning a “Heartstruck heart” and pleads, “Please let me fall/Out of love with you”. In a recent interview, Palomo stated: “I find it fascinating that the follow-up records from all the people living under this umbrella [chillwave] reiterate the fact that we’re all coming at it from very different musical places.”
As the founding members of the genre gradually diverge, we are sequentially treated to more and more innovative and at times stunning works. Era Extraña and Washed Out’s Within and Without are prime examples of this; so much so that I guarantee both both of their spots in many end of year lists. This hypnotic gem of an album not only excites me regarding the future of Neon Indian but the future of all other chillwave artists. A very enthralling premise indeed.
Released on 3rd October 2011 by Transgressive Records