Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms

Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
It’s become increasingly difficult for new artists to try and do anything with synths that hasn’t already been done before. Even with commercially successful artists like MGMT and Hot Chip, their influences are easily traceable, and while they make for great electronic pop artitsts, therein lies their problem. It’s hard to make accessible music and yet at the same time push the limits of the synthesizer; even the godfathers of of electronic music Kraftwerk are still seen very much as a cult band. It’s high praise indeed then to describe Neon Indian’s debut album as both an accessible work of wonky electronics and genre skewing masterpiece.
Psychic Chasms aims for the kid in you that has discovered the Super Nintendo. The whole record plays like the soundtrack to some sort of perverse kids show; at first it appears childish and throwaway, but you soon realise that it’s very, very good. Lasting about half an hour, it has enough time to completely immerse you in the aural equivalent of a fluorescent bouncy castle, whilst still leaving you wanting more when it’s done. It’s also impressive that whilst the the term “Lo-fi” is being used more and more to describe indie music and fast becoming code for “shite”, Neon Indian are among a handful of artists proving that such a sound can be harnessed to great effect.
First single “Deadbeat Summer” plays the album in joyously, capturing both a childhood innocence and the familiar feeling of utter boredom during the summer months. The melodies themselves aren’t all that creative, but it’s the warped drums and warbled electronics that makes it a special listen. It manages to sound wonderfully new and fresh yet still give off the sense that even though you don’t remember it, this was the soundtrack to your youth. The brief “Laughing Gas” sounds exactly like a track called Laughing Gas should. The ever so sinister laughter of children in the background combined with far off vocals leads perfectly into album highlight, “Terminally Chill”. I’ve been listening to this song for quite a while now and I still can’t pinpoint what band this song reminds me of. The warped synths of its verses and lazy vocals fool you perfectly into a sense of the retro, yet the genuinely delightful chorus has sensibilities that are far more modern. Fond of brief snippets, “if I knew, i’d tell you) “ sounds like what Richard Branson is going to have piped through the PA system when he finally gets those shuttles to the Moon going. An incredibly futuristic sound that carries through much of the album, and is developed on “666(i don’t know if you know)”. The slightly more definite bassline provides a solid platform from which to take stock of Psychic Chasms’ previous tracks, and delve into what’s to come.
The guitar driven “Should Have Taken Acid With You” matches the job description perfectly and creates a swirling two and a half minutes of hazy synths, twinkling electro and depressive vocals. It’s probably one of the simpler tracks on offer here, but it still manages to deliver and develop into a characteristically nostalgic swirl.
“Mind, Drips” goes from a stripped down, almost 8-bit opening to a futuristic ballad of paranoia. The steady beat introduced in its verse seeps into a chorus that sounds like someone’s playing a Spandau Ballet vinyl on a broken record player.

Psychic Chasms plays out with the sinister “Ephemeral Artery”, which was originally written as the instrumental track for Will Smith’s debut single (This may or may not be true). It is a very 80’s sounding jam though, and a suitable note to end the retro sounding Psychic Chasms on.
Whilst I won’t claim that nothing on here hasn’t been done already, Psychic Chasms does sound very original. There’ll be sounds you’ll vaguely recognize and think you can reference, but I would challenge anyone to accurately cite more than 3 clear influences here. It’s an incredibly retro and nostalgic sounding record, and as this year hasn’t exactly been lacking those sorts of albums, it’s good to see that a new artist can create such an atmosphere brilliantly and avoid cliché. Psychic Chasms is the sort of record that will make you want to go out and create new memories for it to provide the soundtrack to. And there’s not much higher praise than that.

Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms, reviewed by Lemon on 2009-10-26T12:48:03-07:00 rating 4.2 out of 5

Comments are closed.