Neon Indian's debut album, Psychic Chasms, fell neatly into chill wave scene at exactly the right time. It had moments of sheer brilliance ('Should Have Taken Acid With You') but also felt like it had a fair amount of filler. Era Extraña is the opposite, it is the sound of musician Alan Palomo and his band seemingly freed from the shackles of genre-definition to make glorious shoe gazing distortion pop chill and, more to the point, it's packed with killers.
This isn't to say this second album abandons the Neon Indian sound - it doesn't. It just pushes it outwards to make something larger and more encompassing. At times it's a bloody noisy record, which isn't something you often hear people say about chill wave, and if you didn't tell me I'd probably have guessed this was M83's new one rather than Neon Indian's (more on which in a later post possibly...).
Era Extraña is brilliant simply because it boasts brilliant melodies. The cover depicts a confusing image of a person lit up from within (by a glow stick? Or mobile phone?), seemingly staring into their own hands whilst the sun sets on urban decay in the background. It feels totally fitting, packed with warm colours and messy scenery.
This is melodramatically hormonal music. Listen to the adrenal rush of 'Hex Girlfriend', fuzzy bass and a synthesised take on epic guitar solos and a suitably climatic finale. Similarly 'Fallout' just feels gorgeous - there is something so cool about Palomo's swagger on these tracks, he makes a song about actively wanting to fall out of love with someone sound like the most romantic thing imaginable. There are stacks of songs as good as this and before you know it Era Extraña is almost over, on dawn chorus of 'Sun Irrupt'. The album closes proper with instrumental 'Heart: Release', a bookend to the synthesiser referencing 'Heart: Attack' and 'Heart: Decay' that mark the opening and rough midpoint of the album.
Those that were fans of the previous album may feel like Neon Indian have thrown the baby out with the bath water on Era Extraña. I don't care - they just got themselves a much better baby.