Glo-fi Fidelity

Neon Indian proves his worth on his sophomore release, “Era Extraña.”

by Sally Hedberg


WHAT: Neon Indian

WHEN: 8 p.m., Thursday

WHERE: 7th St. Entry, 701 First Ave N.

COST: $15

Alan PalomoâÄôs (Neon Indian) rise to popularity isnâÄôt difficult to understand. He is eager, intelligent and relatable, and his fresh approach to nostalgic, lo-fi synth pop has survived the pivotal test of the follow-up album.

Back strong with his second LP, âÄúEra Extraña,âÄù and a tour that will carry him to a stage with Kreashawyn, Palomo has âÄúmade itâÄù in every sense that an upcoming indie musician could hope for.

But heâÄôs a reluctant king. He didnâÄôt ask to be labeled as the leader of a movement he doesnâÄôt necessarily acknowledge and frankly, deserves more artistic credibility than mere generalizations of âÄúglo-fiâÄù or âÄúchillwave.âÄù

âÄúThe climate of music journalism now is just an invention of the Internet,âÄù Palomo said. âÄúI think that everybody now indicates that theyâÄôre all coming from really different places to begin with you know? Lo-fi production is a medium, itâÄôs not necessarily a genre, so this âÄòmovementâÄô isnâÄôt necessarily a real âĦ the more I talk about it the more fumbled I get.âÄù

ItâÄôs not that Palomo is complaining. With fans, two lauded albums and a collaboration with the Flaming Lips already under his belt at the fresh age of 23, he doesnâÄôt need to.

ItâÄôs just a mild frustration to be continually pegged as something that may or may not be legitimate, especially when heâÄôs an artist that approaches his music with such sincerity. But he doesnâÄôt let it cut too deep and the expectations of his role in the spotlight didnâÄôt have much of an effect on his approach to âÄúEra Extraña.âÄù

âÄúIt felt like this rite of passage,âÄù Palomo said. âÄúI donâÄôt like to look at those statements as linear things, you know where youâÄôre only trying to outdo yourself. I kind of just treat them like different things altogether and allow them to be these different gestures that are populating this little universe that IâÄôm creating with this project.

âÄúItâÄôs just been fueled by like, âÄòEhh I kinda wanna play the guitars right now,âÄô I would never willfully want to make the same record twice.âÄù

And he hasnâÄôt. âÄúPsychic ChasmsâÄù was a playful, acid-stained look at the nuance of young adult life, built from underdeveloped video-game synths and dance-pop beats.

âÄúEra ExtrañaâÄù creeps unexpectedly into a new sphere of maturity. Palomo maintains a youthful air of wonder, but the sounds produced are heavier, more complex. An emphasis on vocals and strong, reverb-y synths brings a new element of contemplation, something that, while not overtly sought, was drawn out during the time he spent creating the album in Helsinki.

âÄúWhen I went there originally it was kind of meant more for personal development than album writing,âÄù Palomo said. âÄúI kind of wanted to forget about Neon Indian for a while and just kind of get under my own headspace and, you know, think about the same things IâÄôd have been thinking about if no one had ever listened to âÄòPsychic Chasms.âÄô”

The isolation led to some loaded thinking and eventually the blueprints for his new album. Underneath all of the heartsick dream pop lies PalomoâÄôs truest metaphysical reflections.

âÄúI fell into the idea that in order to make something thatâÄôs indicative of the future weâÄôre kind of frankensteining these weird amalgamations of the past,âÄù Palomo said.

Interestingly enough, thatâÄôs precisely whatâÄôs pigeonholed Neon Indian and his movement in the eyes of the blogosphere.

When it comes to his own future, despite immediate plans to release a video album, the plans are as fuzzy as his own synth lines.

Drawing on wisdom from Jim Jarmusch, the only option he sees fit is to carry his music to the next level.

âÄúThe moods tend to undulate, depending on the circumstances that IâÄôm in or where I just happen to be,âÄù Palomo said. âÄúWherever itâÄôs going next is still somewhat of a mystery to me.âÄù