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Neon Indian

Psychic Chasms

[Lefse; 2009]

By ; December 4, 2009 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Fresh from a gauzy bubble of Pitchfork-prompted hype, Neon Indian – a collaboration between electro-whiz-kid Alan Palomo and visual artist Alicia Scardetta – have hurtled straight from relative obscurity into the warm embrace of a small army of nostalgia-hungry music bloggers.

Setting the actual music aside for a moment, Neon Indian’s hipster props are mostly based on just how god damn marketable they are – from their trippy, sugar-paper album art and their Casio-wielding Polaroid promo pics, to the casual drug references dotted around their song titles (“Should Have Taken Acid With You”). Neon Indian embody the kind of awkward Pac-Man-and-fluorescent-shutter-glasses strain of pop star clogging the industry right now – from Hot Chip’s jittery nerd-pop to Kanye West’s horribly self-aware over-starched suits-and-bow-tie combos. As far as nostalgia crazes go, however, it’s an understandable one – a chance for Peter Pan music bloggers to regress back to their childhoods, when their lives were played out over platform games and power-ups, rather than bills and recessions.

On Psychic Chasms, however, Neon Indian has bucked the trend and created an album with substance that just about equals its overwhelming style.

For such a simple concept, Psychic Chasms is surprisingly intricate. Even 25-second opener “(AM)” manages to get through more musical ideas than most albums do in an hour, blending wobbling synths, cracking percussion and Palomo’s mutated groans to create an opener as strange as it is absorbing.

Elsewhere, the results are equally as appealing. Palomo mashes screeching guitar noodling with electronic video game crashes and manipulated, wonky vocals on “Terminally Chill.” It’s the antithesis of a pop song – deliciously incohesive, it revels in its own glorious messiness.

However, the standout track is the pulsating, sunshine-splattered “Deadbeat Summer.” With its woozy, fluctuating beats, sugared synths and fuzzed guitars, it perfectly encapsulates the hazy, sunsick ennui of its namesake. It instantaneously transports you back to the perfect sepia-toned summers of your past, and even transcends them – under the track’s dizzying influence, your memories are conveyed in glorious Technicolor.

So another triumphant release from an indie buzz band – cut past the retro blogosphere-hyped nonsense and you’ll uncover an album that’ll make you feel as warm and as satisfied as you did 10 years ago, when you finally reached the elusive level 12 on Super Mario Land.


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