Over four years after Neon Indian’s Era Extraña was released, lead singer/songwriter Alan Palomo welcomes the world to his laborious fusion of two fraternal twins— Neon Indian and VEGA, his own solo production moniker that dates back to the musician’s high school years. VEGA INTL. Night School is due out Oct 16th via Mom + Pop Records.
“Most of what I’ve learned about human nature in my twenties has happened after dark,” Palomo notes in a press release. “People are just kind of more honest then. More deliberate. I like to call the places I go to Night Schools.”
VEGA INTL. Night School is a stylistic amalgamation of nostalgic Atari sound effects, reverbed funk, and modern hi-fi recording style that features more complex beat patterns and a kaleidoscopic dance atmosphere not present in Psychic Chasms (2009) or Era Extraña (2011), but instead, more characteristic of VEGA.
Neon Indian may have outgrown the lo-fi psychedelic pop groove akin to chillwave, but perpetuating awareness of the production process, a value that likely originated with VEGA, has always been the intention. Each of the band’s albums begins and ends with electrified instrumentals, adding transparency to the mechanics behind developing an acoustically fluid album. Night School supersedes past production value and manages to squeeze multiple transitions into the same track, launching Neon Indian into an entirely new and more elaborate musical realm. And to ensure listeners remain astute, some of these transitions are even given their own track titles. Such tendencies are present in “Slumlord” and its instrumental outro “Slumlord’s Re-lease.” Few artists can generate a compounded track that maintains a sense of logic, but when they do, it’s memorable.
“Annie,” released last spring, builds upon the dichotomy between modernity and older eras, a concept Neon Indian has been clutching to since Psychic Chasm’s resurrection of the 80s. In the track, Palomo explains how he’s sick of being left at the mercy of Annie’s answering machine, a soon-to-be nostalgic form of communication. On a deeper level, he touches on the paradox between today’s constant state of interconnectedness and the difficulty of not only getting a hold of someone’s phone, but of also understanding their true intentions. Palomo’s fixation on communication becomes obsessive as he loops the lyrics “answering machine,” isolating them as the dominant harmony and then slowly slipping them into the background. Reminiscent of Tame Impala’s “Let It Happen,” Palomo’s compulsive loops of thought are reflected by the transitioning beats.
In a review of the band’s first album, Psychic Chasms, Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan describes Palomo as a 1980s baby that “struck back with a Nintendo Power Glove.” Tracks like “Annie” apply to 80s kids who dealt with dial up tones and answering machines, in the same way it applies to today’s generation. In a tangled but calculated fusion of hi-fi and lo-fi, dance music and chillwave, and insane video game sound effects cut with tropical subtleties, Night School adopts a curious universality of time and style. And I’m willing to bet it was accrued during the night.
1. Hit Parade
3. Street Level
6. The Glitzy Hive
7. Dear Skorpio Magazine
9. Slumlord’s Re-Lease
10. Techno Clique
11. Baby’s Eyes
12. C’est La Vie (say the casualties!)
13. 61 Cygni ave.
14. News From the Sun (live bootleg)