Heat-warped synth wizard Alan Palomo writes and records as Neon Indian, and he announced a new album early Friday morning alongside a new single, "Slumlord." VEGA INTL. Night School is the first Neon Indian album since 2011's glitchy, stargazing Era Extraña, and it's set for release on October 16th.
Palomo has mostly kept quiet in the four years between full-lengths. He released a remix EP featuring tracks from Era Extraña in 2013, and contributed a new song to one of Grand Theft Auto V's in-game radio stations that same year. When the bouncy, Balearic "Annie" came out earlier this year, Palomo was still working on its parent album.
Neon Indian was part of chillwave's Holy Trinity
Neon Indian first became popular around the turn of the '00s as one of the standard-bearers for chillwave, a subgenre invented by Panda Bear's Person Pitch and given its magical name by Carles' Hipster Runoff. It wasn't much more than a specific strain of electro-pop, but the songs all sounded like they'd been recovered from half-melted cassette tapes; they tended towards the druggy, groggy, and reflective, and nodded toward dance music without actually becoming danceable. Neon Indian, Washed Out, and Toro y Moi became chillwave's Holy Trinity, the three projects that defined its limits and had the most potential for enduring careers (potential that's since been fulfilled).
Of those three, Palomo was the weirdest and the funniest, and he had the most interesting set of influences. He sampled Todd Rundgren for his first big single, and he turned the lament "should have taken acid with you" into a midnight pool party jam. By the time Era Extraña was released, he was pulling from The Flaming Lips, M83, and shoegaze in equal measure. "Slumlord" is a worthy comeback, like David Bowie's "Let's Dance" spit through a Super Nintendo and played under a spinning disco ball. It's dangerous, funky, and catchy as hell.
"Most of what I've learned about human nature in my 20s has happened after dark," said Palomo in a press release. "People are just kind of more honest then. More deliberate. I like to call the places I go to Night Schools."