Neon Indian

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Psychic Chasms (2009) , 6.5/10
Era Extrana (2011), 6.5/10
Vega Intl Night School (2015), 5/10

Austin's Neon Indian, the brainchild of electronic composer Alan Palomo, crafted retro-psychedelic synth-pop littered with all sorts of sound effects on Psychic Chasms (Lefse, 2009). The deranged bubblegum pop Terminally Chill, imbued with dissonance and found sounds, was the archetype of Palomo's songs, that could occasionally steer closer to mainstream power-pop (notably in 6669), but mostly sounded like a sendup of pop muzak. Deadbeat Summer is a parody of the Beatles with a plastic beat a` la Love Of Life Orchestra, and the synth makes fun of the catchy refrain of Should Have Taken Acid With You. Mind Drips sounds like a defanged remix of the Pet Shop Boys. His "dirty" electronic arrangements make a point of ruining sweet danceable ballads such as Local Joke. However for Ephemeral Artery one can almost say the opposite: the melody ruins the industrial nightmare created by the keyboards. This album became one of the blueprints for the entire chillwave movement.

The more artificial Era Extrana (2011), produced by Dave Fridmann, ends up sounding more personal despite abandoning the lo-fi ideology. The trivial coldwave elegy Polish Girl pales in comparison with the lavish quasi-cacophony of Future Sick, Suns Irrupt and Hex Girlfriend that possibly represent Neon Indian's artistic peaks.

While his fellow chillwave pioneers Washed Out and Toro y Moi kept changing their style, Neon Indian remained loyal to his lo-fi synth-pop for vintage analog keyboards on the double-LP Vega Intl Night School (2015). The reggae number Annie isn't equipped with a decent refrain. The disco locomotive Techno Clique is a lame imitation of Giorgio Moroder. And Slumlord sounds like a Nicolas Jaar remix of Prince's falsetto soul. Not exactly genius.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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