I’m not really sure what or who “was strange” that gave Era Extraña its name, but this album definitely seems to come from a deeper — and perhaps darker — place than Neon Indian’s debut, Psychic Chasms. Even so, one album seems to take up where the other left off. Such that is exemplified in the title tracks (“Psychic Chasms” and “Era Extraña”, respectively), there is a rather apparent transition from more cheerful, treble-heavy music to a bass-heavy one that purrs and drones melodically. Even with this growth, a number of things do remain consistent in Neon Indian’s sound: catchy beats & melodies; muddy, sometimes incoherent singing; synthesized, echoing noises; and weird song titles.
Similarly to Neon Indian’s first album, several of the tracks on Era Extraña have an experimental air to them, though not in as merely playful a manner. There is a myriad of crazy synth sounds and even a rare instance of sampling in “Arcade Blues”, which, contrary to the name, closes out the album on a quite elated note. Though the chromatic digital aspects of the music remain foundational throughout the album, there are a few straight-up rock moments, such as on “The Blindside Kiss” and “Fallout”, which contain heavily distorted guitar sounds and even seem to borrow from David Bowie, such as with the deep vocals in the latter song.
Earlier tracks off the album, like “Polish Girl” and “Hex Girlfriend”, are particularly enjoyable and fetching, containing lyrics like “Does he make you / does he make you feel alright?”. They incite a concoction of sensibilities, some odd mix of happiness, longing, and contemplation. Where Psychic Chasms contained many short, interlude-type songs, Era Extraña comes off as more patient and deliberate, containing drawn out songs that link to one another rather seamlessly. A few songs begin with or contain messier static sounds, and many play around successfully with intersecting melodies that add delightful texture to the chillwave sound.
This Friday, Neon Indian will be playing a show in promotion of Era Extraña, but will no doubt play some favorites from the first album. The show will take place at Lincoln Hall (a venue that is actually nearing its centennial, as it opened as a nickelodeon theatre in 1912) with opening acts Com Truise and Purity Ring. Alan Palomo (the alter-alter-ego of Neon Indian) and his band will surely be keeping it real and synth-y.