Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Alan Palomo never fucking stops.

Going from GhostHustler to VEGA and now Neon Indian; Palomo's more than content to have multiple identities functioning at once (in the case of VEGA and Neon Indian), and thankfully, his work never suffers as a result.

While VEGA is very much focused on the 80's Electro-Pop, Neon Indian's Psychic Chasms serves to vent Palomo's desires for more left-of-field experimentations. That said, this album will feel both similar and alien to you depending on what you listen to. Psychic Chasms is a thirty minute amalgamation of Daft Punk, Chromeo, Cut Copy, Thieves Like Us and any 80's Dream-Pop channeling band you care to name. Of course I could run off a list of at least a dozen other acts Neon Indian sounds similar to, but such comparisons are a tad lazy.

The album is simultaneously abstract yet accessible, and it's this quality that I believe is Psychic Chasms' greatest strength. Whenever the instrumental sample-ridden and warped synth-laden sound of the tracks are in danger of losing the interest of those with more conservative tastes, Palomo's silky smooth vocals draw you right back in. Every track is dripping in nostalgia and memory, they all seem like a return to the events of a distant past joined by both prangs of regret and joyful resurgence. No track fits the bill more than Should Have Taken Acid With You, a sleepy dreamscape of love lost and drug fueled euphoria, it's definitely Neon Indian's manifesto functioning at its highest level.

I can't help but draw comparisons to Memory Tapes' Seek Magic; it shares with Psychic Chasms a similar sound and similar influences but, for me, Seek Magic errs too far into the realm of aloofness, gaining attention for its unique compositions, then losing it for not ending the songs in half the time they take to get where they are going.

The quality of Psychic Chasms is deftly maintained throughout the LP, arguably because of Palomo's use of segue songs between the strongest tracks on the album. A similar format was seen in Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours, but I think Neon Indian pulls it off more successfully in this release. While it's a shame the album is done before you are; the less compelling tracks are made that much more successful in their shorter length, they begin to feel like intros and outros to the focus pieces of the album. When viewed in this way, it's hard to pick out any songs that really let down the album at all.

When all is said and done, Psychic Chasms is definitely not for everyone. Those looking for soaring, chorus-focused dancefloor tracks, they may be better served to seek out Palomo's more pop-oriented project; VEGA; because you won't find them here. That's not to say there aren't catchy tracks on the album, because there definitely are, and songs like Deadbeat Summer and Terminally Chill are great examples of this, but the album is definitely meant to be taken in as a whole package rather having its importance placed on singular songs.

As far as first albums go, Neon Indian hit the ground running. Although Alan Palomo has had time to refine his approach through his other works, and you can't help but be thankful he didn't attempt an album like this before he was truly ready. Psychic Chasms may take a few listens to take hold of you, but once it does, you'll find a multifaceted soundscape of nostalgia-soaked Chill-Wave that's very appealing.


Should Have Taken Acid With You - Neon Indian


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