I really had no idea what to expect in Era Extrana, coming off of Psychic Chasms. I love that album, it's messy and yet completely put together.
Era Extrana is very different, but it has grown on me since I first got it. I reserve the 'listen to the entire album a few times' thing for few artists, and Neon Indian is one of them. The first few goes around the songs blend together without any real instant connections, but soon they worm their way into your mind and you find yourself looking for them.
First off, it's definitely less Chillwave. Still very electronic, but it seems put together very differently. Psychic Chasms is very driven by the instrumentals, with the vocals more a part of the background than as the bones of the song. You could take out the vocals and not notice, which I think is why it's so beautiful. Era Extrana doesn't have as much as that laid back lift that defines chillwave, the song structure is more similar to what you normally see in songs. Still, Palomo makes it his own. There is one song that sounds to me like it could have been on Psychic Chasms, which is Heart_Decay, in that it is lyrical and storylike without any discernable words.
So here's a song by song breakdown.
Heart_Attack (:57) - Intro. Some escalading synth that leads nicely into...
Polish Girl (4:24) - A single off the album, very electropop. The song flows nicely, but feels veeeery different. What I liked about Psychic Chasms was that each song had a very distinct arc, and would change as they played on. They each ended very distinctly, a nice coda to the music. Each song seemed like it could be about more than just what it was. Polish Girl sounds very made for radio, in that it follows a more familiar structure of lyrics, chorus, lyrics, chorus, chorus, end. I like Polish Girl, but there isn't anything that makes is fantastic. Also, and this isn't anything important, but listening to it I feel like I hear the Polish Ambassador and Bonobo. Probably just used some synth they are fond of, but it made me happy.
Blindside Kiss (3:34) - I like this song. It took a few listens to pick up on it, but it turned into something good. I actually love the lyrics, not something I would have guessed I'd like about a Neon Indian song. But then I discovered that it was the only song on the album Palomo co-wrote, and that made me sad for some reason. Nothing super special about it, but I am still fond of this one.
Hex Girlfriend (3:16) - ...And then we get to this song, which to me sounds similar to Blindside Kiss, so I don't know why they put them right next to each other. However, I hear the differences now more than I did the first few times. This song sounds to me like it would not be out of place in a Neo revival of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, if that makes any sense. It's fun and moves pretty well.
Heart_Decay (1:45) - As I said earlier, this is the one song I feel is similar to Psychic Chasms. I suppose I wanted more of this, where you can just listen and the music will tell the story for you, without you having to interpret anything. It's short but sweet.
Fallout (3:32) - Another single, I think it was the first. At first I couldn't tell if Palomo was singing this one, the vocals are so looooow. A good song, sounds vaguely in the same vein as Local Joke. One thing I like din particular was about halfway through the song it changes, gives it some dimension, kind of a change musically that reminded me of Psychic Chasms and made me happy.
Era Extrana (2:57) - This one I skip. Nothing personal, just nothing special. To slow for me.
Halogen (I could be a shadow 4:36) - This one I didn't really notice at first, but have grown to enjoy. I like the melody on this one, very smooth and drippy.
Future Sick (4:47) - I think I actively disliked this one the first time I heard it (I hate a chorus based sloley on repetition) but I like it now. There's one strand of synth that plays through the chorus ("future sick - future sick - future sick") that grabs me. Also, this one changes towards the end in a nice way. Worth a few extra listens if you wrote it off immediately.
Suns Irrupt (5:29) - I feel the same about Suns Irrupt as I did Future Sick, instantly forgettable, maybe even bad "suns irrupt - suns irrupt - suns irrupt") but it has grown on me. It makes me think of a long, grating hot day (That's probably the suns irrupting part). But I like some of the things it does towards the end. Also, it made me realize I'd been spelling Irrupt wrong.
Heart_Release (2:06) - Little ending song. It sounds like an ending song. It makes me contemplative.
Arcade Blues (single 4:47) - Why is the word 'single' in the title? It's the one of the album that wasn't. Maybe it's ironic. But I like this song quite a bit, it starts out sounding like video game punching, and is pretty quick paced. Good for walking, has a pretty quick beat.
And that's it! I feel like the album needs 1-2 more songs, but I like them. The only one I've not converted to is
the title track, but what can I say. You'll notice I didn't say I love any of the songs, which thus far is true. Is Palomo running from Chillwave?? I hope not. I love chillwave, say what you will. I think He's just doing what he wants. I will definitely try to see them live, I think these songs will translate to live very well, and I will also be buying a 3rd album. I'll just hope it's a bit more Psychic Chasmsy.