As modern music goes, you really can't get that much more with-the-times than with Neon Indian's sun-warped, synth-based, dance-pop sound. It's a style so current, in fact, that critics are still having trouble settling on a genre name for the music that this band and other blog-adored acts like it are currently creating. Which is maybe a little weird, actually: On its much-hyped debut release, Neon Indian borrows quite liberally from the works of yesteryear—specifically the efforts of Todd Rundgren, whose music is sampled in the two of Psychic Chasms' tracks, "Deadbeat Summer" and "Terminally Chill." No matter: The added blips, bleeps, bass lines, guitar riffs and synth chords do plenty to make Neon Indian's sound unique enough.
Consider it just another testament in the mind-blowing genius of Dallas native Alan Palomo, whose earlier works in the defunct Ghosthustler and still-active VEGA likewise dazzled the tastemaking blogosphere. Indeed, there's really no denying the slacker pop draw of the disc's aforementioned tracks and others, among them the shimmering "Laughing Gas" and the bouncy "Local Joke."
But just as Neon Indian's sound is uniquely modern, it raises concerns that it immediately dates itself as a distinctly 2009 fad. Oddly, Palomo's earlier '80s-obsessed outfits seemed a little more timeless in their creations—and, likewise, it's this album's Dayglo-drenched "Mind, Drips" and "Ephemeral Artery" that stick in your mind beyond the initial earworms of the others.
Make no mistake: As a snapshot of musical tastes circa 2009, this album is tops. But whether we'll recall it with the same reverence as the rest of Palomo's output remains up for debate.
Neon Indian performs a free show on Saturday, October 31, at the Granada Theater with Austin's White Denim.