Neon Indian

Psychic Chasms

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Based on advance buzz from blogs, Neon Indian went from being an obscure Austin, TX duo to one of 2009’s most hotly tipped bands. Their debut Psychic Chasms actually lived up to the hype, which was no mean feat, especially because the band’s sound could be described as an improbable, hazy swirl of Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine, and a vintage game console. Neon Indian’s watercolor electronic indie pop -- which blurs disco, electro, dream and synth pop together effortlessly -- is mostly the product of one Indian, Alan Palomo (the band’s other half, Alicia Scardetta, provides visuals for his lush sonics). Despite, or perhaps because of, the obsessive layers of sound in these songs, Psychic Chasms has a decidedly homespun vibe, and Palomo’s voice often feels downright frail, almost drowned out by its dense surroundings. The songs that appeared before the album’s release remain its euphoric highlights: “Should’ve Taken Acid with You” is as melancholic as it is psychedelic, filled with regret and swirling, streaking synths, and “Terminally Chill” is an inspired collage of soft rock and synth pop, with noodly keyboards and guitars that become one. Best of all is “Deadbeat Summer,” which samples Todd Rundgren’s “Izzat Love” and expands on that song’s breathy bounce with clouds of harmonies and keyboard filigrees that are barely pinned down by fuzz bass and clever rhymes like “abyss” and “reminisce.” Rundgren’s studio wizardry and vulnerability echo elsewhere on Psychic Chasms, especially on the album’s moodier second half. The superficially cheery “Local Joke” has the feeling of being laughed at, not with; “6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know)” wraps itself in woozy heartache; and even the album’s most overtly danceable track, “Ephemeral Artery,” has a dark edge underneath its kinetic beat. Even if the sheer amount of sounds Palomo crams into Neon Indian’s music is occasionally overwhelming, Psychic Chasms is a distinctive, adventurous, and heartfelt debut.

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