The word of the week is retro.
Listening to my latest obsession, Neon Indian, makes me want to travel to a time when things were rad, or groovy, or psychedelic. I know I’m mixing up decades here, but it’s unclear what exactly Neon Indian is channeling, other than past days of youth, yore and sick, funked out tunes.
My friend, call him Allen, sent me a series of emails this weekend when I asked him if he had any listening recommendations for me. His emails are usually slightly trippy and mildly incoherent. But his answer to my query was lucid:
“PSYCHIC CHASMS BY NEON INDIAN OBVIOUSLY”
The band’s debut album came out in October and was well loved among various self-proclaimed “indie bloggers,” who occupy a peculiar amount of importance in determining “what’s hot.” I didn’t realize they were right until Allen had me give Neon Indian a second listen.
“Deadbeat Summer.” I couldn’t help but see repeated images of the ’70s hit “American Graffiti” spinning through my brain when I heard this. I think I love it because, like my friend Allen (who spent his summer tripping across America and probably had this song on repeat on his iPod), it’s marvelously unpretentious about its subject matter. It’s just some real, down-and-dirty electronic noise overlayed with some of lead singer Alan Palomo’s sparsely whispered lyrics and occasional “oohs,” “ahs.”
“Should Have Taken Acid With You” and “Terminally Chill.” These two tracks are worth a listen in conjunction because they both perfectly demonstrate Neon Indian’s up-front attitude: “Our trips, imagined sonically, will make you trip.” The lyrics in both songs are short and sparing, and yet they’re some of my favorites. Their use of quick images sliced up from greater experiences lets the lyrics match the tone of the song and makes you want to “melt our tongues and become unglued.”
The oddly mediocre and yet somehow captivating
The title track “Psychic Chasms” is a good place to start if you miss New Order. I’m not entirely sure if any lyrics were spewed between the jumble of electronica, but somehow it keeps you listening, if only to think, “WTF am I listening to?” Some of the other tracks, like “6699 (I Don’t Know If You Know)” have this same problem – they don’t feel substantial or poignant, but they won’t bore or repulse you if they’re playing in the background.