How can you not be intrigued by an album that begins with what sounds like a one-second sample of “True” by Spandau Ballet? Try to resist. Neon Indian, the new project from Alan Palomo of Vega, began as an attempt to fuse visual art with electro, and instead grew into a fully realized entity and album in its own right. Neon Indian is doing to New Romantic Synth pop what Wavves did to garage rock and Blank Dogs did to Gothic music, stripping it down to its clockwork essentials and dirtying up the gleaming cocktail hour jetstreams with grit and echo and lo-fi effects pedals. And yet, despite the messy spontaneity of the execution, the pop hooks are sacrosanct. “Laughing Gas” is built on a drum and keyboard loop that sounds like the hook from “Girls just Want To Have Fun” buried in a badly-mic’ed time capsule and layered over with ancient synth wooshes. “Terminally Chill” sounds like a woozy Roxy Music or 10cc with slurred choirboy vocals intruding just long enough for a few choice, incomprehensible lines, ooohs, and aaaahs.
“Should Have Taken Acid With You” begins on a discordant note of guitar, before yer speakers are swamped in a thick honey of silver-machine synths, a long-buried four-to-the-floor beat, and Palomo’s vocals almost collapsing into noncommittal muttering of the title over and over again. “Mind Drips” takes all of the art-gallery-opening pose/poise of prime New Wave and channels it through a series of blown-out toy amps and a frazzled vocal and guitar squiggle. “Psychic Chasms” follows that same idea with a boombox full of toy casio sounds assembled and reassembled into perfect-pop-telekinesis, a robotic slide-guitar riff, and this incredible bridge/guitar solo surrounded by little synth bubbles; the vocals fade in and out like a shortwave radio delivering Marc Bolan lullabies.
A lot of Psychic Chasms sounds like how I remember all of the music at dark skating rinks sounding as a kid.