When Alan Palomo released his first album under the Neon Indian moniker, he may not have known exactly what he was getting himself into. The Denton, TX native had a knack for wonky arcade-like sounding textures accompanied by lo-fi vocals. And this lackadaisical style fit perfectly, for better or worse, into the chillwave movement that was ascending to the forefront in late 2009 and into 2010.

His debut album Psychic Chasms featured ultra laid-back tunes such as “Deadbeat Summer” and the oft-named “Terminally Chill”. You could slap these songs on a playlist along with some Washed Out, Toro Y Moi,  Blackbird Blackbird, and Brothertiger and would have nearly encapsulated the entire genre and movement. Chillwave was made for dazy summers on the beach and relaxed cross country road trips. The lyrics were filled with meaningless platitudes, the lo-fi synths pulsated throughout, and the vocals were so hazy to the point of verging on indistinguishable. And that’s what made it so great.

Now, fast forward five years to this year’s October release of Neon Indian’s VEGA INTL. Night School. The snyths are refined, Palomo’s voice is beyond distinguishable, and the basslines are funky. The word lo-fi will not enter your brain throughout the 51 minutes of quasi-dancefloor tunes.

“Slumlord”, the first release off the album, starts with some galactic synth musings before settling into a funky groove. The reverb accompanies a fat bassline with precise synth overlays. Palomo comes in after a minute and a half and he’s ready to hit the dance floor. You can hear it in his voice.  It’s as if he’s risen through the ashes of chillwave and is ready to give snyth pop and disco a shot.

You can hear his previous albums ingrained in VEGA INTl. Night School. The wonky 80s synths and nostalgia filled tracks are still at the forefront. But this time around it’s different. This time around, the album serves not as the soundtrack to a lazy adventure to the beach but rather the soundtrack to a dance-filled night out. And to be honest, I think I like this Palomo better.

 

Indie Daze Underbar