Neon Indian - Era Extraña
Record Label: Static Tongues/Mom + Pop
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Alan Palomo's second album as Neon Indian is full of fuzzy and catchy songs that try so hard to encompass the feeling of summer. As just another "chillwave" release in a sea of "chillwave" releases in the last year or so, Era Extraña doesn't quite do enough to really separate itself from the crowd. However, I get the feeling that, whether or not it was Palomo's intention, this isn't an album that is supposed to stick out. It's the soundtrack for another hot summer day that feels exactly like every other hot summer day that came before it. Many of the songs on Era Extraña put you in a place where the sun is setting on that hot summer day and as you feel the day transition into a cooler evening, you can't help but think about where your life is going and how it used to be. There's an underlying sense of both nostalgic sadness and optimistic happiness all throughout the album.
Era Extraña seems to slowly and methodically drag on through parts of the album. Something that works, whether it was done on purpose or not, because it helps set the mood of a summer day, that I can't help but feel, and doesn't take away from the quality of the songs. The overall pop element to the album keeps it upbeat and catchy, even in some parts that feel as if they're dragging on somewhat, while the electronic sound of it both adds to that and gives it much more complexity behind the more simple hooks. Palomo himself has cited his father as a musical influence, one that has appeared to give him a good sense of how to write a good and catchy song, since his father was a Mexican pop star in the 70s and 80s.
The album catches your attention early, with the extremely catchy song "Polish Girl." Definitely a highlight of the album, "Polish Girl" tells the story of a past love and all of the thoughts still associated with her. One of 2011's better songs, it has plenty of replay value due to how undeniably catchy is and how easy it is to relate to it. "Polish Girl" is followed by "The Blindside Kiss," a soft and fuzzy song. It is followed by another highlight on Era Extraña, "Hex Girlfriend." From here, the album drags on and sets you into the daze and laziness of summer, which isn't a bad thing. The closer, "Arcade Blues," wakes you back up and has a similar feeling to the songs earlier in the album as it is another catchy song.
In the end, Era Extraña is a very solid release from Palomo and while it blends in with plenty of other "chillwave" releases that we've seen recently, that doesn't take away from it. The overall sound and feel to the album leads me to believe that it wants to blend in with everything around you. It may drag on at some points, which may bore or turn off some people, but I don't have a problem with it because it adds to that feeling of blending in. Era Extraña has good enough lasting value, especially with songs like "Polish Girl" and "Hex Girlfriend" and "Arcade Blues." All of them being extremely catchy and great songs. For somebody who is new to Palomo's work with Neon Indian, those are great starting points and if they click with you, then Era Extraña might just be for you.