By Brie East
Artist: Neon Indian
Album: VEGA INTL. Night School
Label: Transgressive Records
Release Date: October 16, 2015
Neon Indian’s new album is a collision.
The brainchild of Alan Palomo, Neon Indian has been recording their third album, VEGA INTL. Night School, over the course of four years. This album marks the end of VEGA, Palomo’s side project that captured the disco and house sound that would not have meshed with Neon Indian’s more dreamy sound. This new album, however, merges the two projects into a wild and glamorous release that masterfully combines the dreamy sound of Neon Indian and the more dancey aspects of VEGA.
The Denton-based group has grown away from its chillwave roots to embrace a more clear, vibrant sound with influences that include Italo disco, Belgium new beat and Balearic beat. The album is an ode to the night, seeming to exist in a perpetually dark world, only lit by night clubs and street lights.
The first single off the album, “Annie”, has distorted Pan flutes and throbbing reggae beats, making the song the perfect backdrop for a jungle party. The song also has a chorus that begs for a synchronized dance sequence on a disco floor, including hard, suspenseful bass lines, . The song had me wondering: who knew a song with the repeating chorus of “Answering machine” would be so good?
Evoking imagery of neon glitz and late nights dancing, the ‘80s influence on this album is substantial. As the tracks flow together, the Hall and Oates-esque bass lines and down-pitched vocals echo back to a decade of new wave and synth pop. The name of the love interest, Annie, could be seen as a reference to the hit Michael Jackson song “Smooth Criminal.” Neon Indian’s album is hardly the first in 2015 to have such a sound, with groups like Skylar Spence, Chvrches and Years & Years also adopting a similar sound.
In an interview with Consequence of Sound, Palomo described making albums in the context of filmmaking, his first medium, saying that when he writes songs, he imagines what scene in a film the song would take place in. This interesting take on songwriting has resulted in what he describes as a “screwball comedy” vibe to the album, befitting the album’s overall ‘80’s vibe.
Already dubbed “Best New Music” by Pitchfork (with a score of 8.6), the album’s positive reception comes as no surprise. Will you join along for the ride?