CD review – Neon Indian “Psychic Chasms”

Alan Palomo isn’t just another electronic musician reveling in the by-gone sounds and (excessive) glam of the 1980s. In fact, the founder of the Austin, TX-based electropop outfit Neon Indian is anything but. Enigmatically titled Psychic Chasms, Palomo’s debut LP is not only one of the most replayable records in recent memory, but a livening of the aforementioned genre and a work which will surely pave the way for future artists with a similar taste for nostalgia.

Comparable to well-established acts like LCD Soundsystem, Cut Copy and Tough Alliance (to name only a few), Chasms is almost entirely synthesised, oozing with an eclectic, yet energized, combination of disco-era drums, 8-bit video-game effects and frequent guitar distortion. Take the album’s second track (and first single) “Deadbeat Summer,” a seemingly infinite soundscape injected with soft keyboards and soothing drums, while Palomo croons, “As he rolls into the starlit abyss/All my dreams reminisce.” On tracks like “Terminally Chill” and “6669 (I Don’t Know if You Know),” the melancholic, mind-expanding vocals become a continuing trend, while the influence of psychedelics appears through the continuous and complex layering of electronic effects.

Amidst Palomo’s ensemble collection of over twenty years of musical influence, there is also a surprising emotional quality to Psychic Chasms. Part coming-of-age, part young-and-lustful, the album is a masterful ode to the confusions of youth, and personified most by standout track “Should Have Taken Acid With You.” Here, sci-fi effects punctuate a sombre beat as the lingering sentiment of regret transcends the words “Should have taken acid with you/take our clothes off in the swimming pool/Should have taken acid with you/tell my parents that I’m staying with you.”

While clocking in at only 30 minutes in length, Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms is easily one of the best albums of the past year. By combining modern electronic effects with those of generations past, Palomo has bridged a distinct gap, while capturing those youthful emotions that haven’t so much as wavered in such an eventful and musically colourful period.