Showing posts with label neon indian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label neon indian. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

video review: 'vega intl. night school' by neon indian

So, not too big on chillwave, but this was pretty solid, and I'm finding it's grown on me with every listen.

Next up... okay, Carrie Underwood next. Stay tuned!

album review: 'vega intl. night school' by neon indian

So remember chillwave? Remember when that was a thing, a trend that seemed to spring partially from the warped edges of gleaming early 80s synthpop and the gummy, lo-fi production of Ariel Pink? Remember how it was a big thing in the indie scene for seemingly a year or two before evaporating in the hot sun for the next big trend?

Because I certainly don't. Now part of this was just time and place - I was listening to very different music in and around the latter half of the 2000s, and chillwave was one of those nebulously defined genres that completely passed me by, there and gone and I had never cared. But going back to listen through it now, I'm a little baffled why there was so much hype in the first place - yeah, the lo-fi eclecticism of the synthpop was a nifty trick, but many of the synth textures didn't really stick with me or blend into particularly solid wholes. it wasn't that it was bad - although there was a fair amount of mediocre stuff around the edges of the genre that was coasting on the fad - but again, Ariel Pink was already making similar music and doing it with more cohesion both in melodies, production, and lyrics.

That said, I do give Neon Indian a certain amount of credit for at least trying to bring a loose sense of humour and fun to a genre that often proved oddly humourless. The main project of frontman Alan Palomo, his debut record in 2009 got a lot of critical acclaim and buzz - so much so that it catapulted him into the festival circuit where he did surprisingly well for being loose, catchy, occasionally funny, and genuinely fun. So it wasn't surprising that as the backlash towards chillwave came in force, Palomo worked to double down on the bigger, buzzier, thicker sounds - even teaming up with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann to overcompress and add more density to the mix. And yeah, the melodic core was still there and some of the quirkier elements did creep through, but I was among many who felt it was a slightly less satisfying effort, even though I never found much chillwave to be all that exhilarating to begin with.

So when I heard that Palomo was looking to bring in more elements of disco and future funk for his upcoming third album, adapted from the VEGA sideproject, I was interested at least, especially considering the critical acclaim started pouring back in. Did it pay off?