Neon Indian – Era Extraña

January 01, 1970

(Static Tongues/Mom and Pop Records)


Something about Neon Indian’s Era Extraña just
seems to scream “John Cusack.” Maybe it’s the throbbing, gloomy, synth-heavy
melody of the Depeche Mode-esque tune “Fall Out.” Maybe it’s the angst-ridden,
desire-filled, washed-out sound of “Era Extraña.” Maybe it’s the simple fact that
nearly all of these songs would be shoe-ins for a soundtrack revolving around a
film about one of Cusack’s perpetually hopeless romantic character
choices.  Even the title track, “Era
is swimming with grungy distortion, breathy, bleary, tormented vocals and the
‘80s pop sensibility of Joy Division. In other words, this album maintains and
exceeds the uber-hip “chill-wave” vibe of 2009’s Psychic Chasms.


But how could it not? Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo was a
pioneer for the “glo-fi, electro-mangled sound” that bands like MGMT and Bear
in Heaven are now heavily known for. Palomo has cited his father, an early ‘80s
Mexican pop star, as an influence; and, fans will be pleased to hear a slightly
more poppy, upbeat sound in the band’s sophomore release. Psychic Chasms, while innovative and critically acclaimed, was
notably sleepier than Era Extraña. “Polish Girl” could easily be the
“Kids” of this album. Incredibly catchy for a song that builds from such a
simplistic beat, it whirrs and whizzes, blips and zooms with what sounds like
samples from Super Mario World (awesome), and embodies the euphoric energy of
Cut Copy’s Zonoscope (also awesome).


Era Extraña, which was self-produced, and subsequently mixed by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming
Lips, MGMT), also leaves behind the sample-filled basis of Psychic Chasms, and appears to have replaced it with a three-part
instrumental piece (“Heart: Attack,” “Heart: Decay,” “Heart Release”) that
shows further growth from the band. By focusing more on originality and the
aural progression of this album, Neon Indian is clearly honing their craft and
proving that the musical trend they helped to create, won’t be going out of
style anytime soon. 


Overall, Era
probably can be best described by Cusack’s character, Rob Gordon, in High Fidelity: “[It] didn’t make me
miserable, or anxious, or ill at ease. You know, it sounds boring, but it
wasn’t. It wasn’t spectacular either. It was just good. But really good.”



Sick,” “Polish Girl,” “Arcade Blues,” “Fall

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