Today I will be reviewing the new album by Neon Indian, Vega International Night School. This album was just released October 16th on Mom and Pop music. This is their third album, with the other releases being 2009’s Psychic Chasms, and 2011’s Era Extraña.
This album has quite the backstory. After founding member Alan Palomo’s laptop, which contained several years’ worth of demos for the third Neon Indian album was stolen, he decided to work on other projects. This included music and soundtracks for other artists including an appearance in Terrence Malick’s film Lawless, and writing the score for the short movie Outer Osmo Ghost Mode. In 2014 he returned to Neon Indian, making the album I’m reviewing today. It was reported that Palomo made this album over the span of about 4 years as well.
Track 1, Hit parade, is interesting in terms of a song to start off the album. It is a one minute instrumental track that has a very unique sound. It reminds me of many songs, in particular the ending to the Beatles track Strawberry Fields Forever comes to mind. It is all quiet at first, then this wave of synth and sound hits you in the face. You don’t really know what to think, as it sounds somewhat frantic to me. After about 40 seconds, a beat comes in and it sounds rather funky, the synthesizers and bass compliment it well. There is a lot of complex sound for this song such as water. It all ties in for an interesting listening experience
Next up is track 2, Annie. At first you are greeted with this very funky melody filled with lots of bass, synth and trickling water. The riff is very well complimented by the vocals and bass. The guitar is very striking to me as it has a very sharp sound, again complimented by the vocals. The song tells of what else, a girl named Annie. The chorus is well done, with loads of synthesizer to boot. There is even a fake phone call that comes in as the vocals end. The song as a whole is very chill and sleek sounding.
On to track 3, Street parade. It has loads of wah wah synth and a striking beat. The vocals on this song for some reason, remind me of something that Of Montreal or Tame Impala would do, it has a very chill sound to it. One thing that strikes me most about this song is the distorted horns, it adds a very nice touch to it. As a whole it reminds me of Daft Punk, especially the synths in particular.
Track 4, Smut! Has a far out club night feel to it. It has a distant and dreamy atmosphere that I honestly have never heard it before. The synth reminds me of a 80s sound, lots of it and distortion. I also love all the voices and talking the song utilizes. It adds to the whole night club atmosphere I mentioned earlier. Overall not a bad song. It’s maybe even somewhat danceable too if you’re in to that sort of thing.
Track 4, Bozo, sounds somewhat similar to the last song, again with a very foreboding club-ish atmosphere. It’s an instrumental track that feels if it’s a continuation of the last song. It makes the ending of Smut! feel like a false ending, just like the previously mentioned Strawberry Fields Forever. The synths are just everywhere on this one, and the voices are also present.
Track 5, Glitzy Hive, feels just like a Daft Punk song, in particular to something off their 2001 album Discovery. It sounds very similar to song on that album such as Face to Face. But that isn’t a bad thing. It is very danceable and has a night club feel to it, or at least what you would hear if you were walking past one. In fact that is true for this entire album. As implied on the title, it is very glitzy sounding.
Track 7, Dear Scorpio magazine, is very good. It has that similar 80s synth pop throwback sound to it. It even has a long and wailing guitar riff to it as well which ads to the 80s feel. I also love the keys, it reminds me of 70s funk and RnB music like Parliament Funkadelic. This song seems to have a lot of influences. My favorite part of this song is distorted saxophone as well as the bass. It does a nice job of having a very funky sound. I have a cousin who I was talking to earlier, and he said that this was his favorite track off the album and I can’t blame him for it. Although it isn’t my personal favorite song off this album, it is definitely up there.
Next up is track 8, Slumlord. It starts out slow at first, but then it speeds up in to a ball of synth driven dance beats. This song sounds similar some of the more electric pop hits that are on the mainstream radio today. The lyrics tell of a slumlord like the title suggests. The whole thing even goes into Italian at the end which for the most part works overall.
Track 9, Slumlord’s re-lease is for the most part a continuation of Slumlord. It is an instrumental track lasting about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The synth and beat sound similar, though this time it adds Congo drums and what sounds like an electric guitar in the background. Overall there is not much to say about this track other than it’s a continuation of Slumlord, but in another song.
Up next is track 8, Techno Clique. It is driven on synths and a very danceable beat. Once again it reminds me of Daft Punk, with its repeated lyrics of Just you and I, and its phaser driven guitar solo. The synths are done very well on this, as I like the different layers of it and the ways they use it. The ending slows down and slowly fades into black over the course of about 40 seconds. It’s a very fun party song that I can see playing at a club with laser lights and fog everywhere.
Track 11, Baby’s Eyes, really takes it down a notch. This song is very slow, chill and relaxed. It is an interesting change of pace from all the dance beats. This track is layered with synth and a very wavy bass and chord driven guitar. The lyrics have a sad and lonely feel with the lyrics of never coming home again until they see the world as I see it sticking out to me the most. It is comparable to Tame Impala, or at least something off of currents. Overall a good change of pace that works very well.
Track 12, Cest la vie, is very fun sounding overall. It reminds me of summer or at least a party. I love the inclusion of the wailing electric guitars and fun little synth effects in the background. Then in the middle of the song, everything changes. The song completely changes, with Cest la vie chanting in the background and a faster speed. I like the way this song ends as well.
Next is track 13, 61 Cygni Drive. The guitar and distorted horns remind me of track 2. The synth on this song is very well done with layers of layers and distorted guitar. The lyrics are about people having a party at 61 Cygni Drive. It ends with a man talking about parties, though I can’t understand him much. There is also police sirens as well which make for a mysterious ending in my opinion.
The last track is News from the Sun. It also says that it is a live bootleg, but I couldn’t tell you where it came from as I do not know much about it. It reminds me of something out of an 80s movie for the most part. Interestingly enough there is less synth and more distorted guitar on this song than there is on the rest of the album. The fact that this song was performed live is pretty crazy, as it sounds like it was made in a studio. Overall it was an ok song in my book.
I would give this album an 8/10 with 10 being good. As a whole it was a fantastic album. When I got it to review, I wasn’t expecting much. I have never heard any of their other albums before this one, so I had my doubts. It was especially surprising to me because I listen to 60s rock music, so I’m not very big into new age and electronic music. It’s very good music to chill out and relax with. I have never heard anything like this album before, nor have I heard it at the station, so the sound of Neon Indian was a brand new experience. If you have never listened to this album or Neon Indian in general, definitely check this out.