Summer is all about low-maintenance. It’s throwing on the lightest clothes you own, and getting from one place to the next with the least bit of effort, avoiding the sweaty mess the blaring sunlight will leave if you’re not careful. The weave of beats and smooth melodic tension of Era Extraña replicate the sluggish pulse of those hot summer days. Synthesizers creep across one another, splattering into bright, colorful patterns that sometimes feel more like interludes than songs. This is music best absorbed through lazy limbs. The target is less about provoking thought, and more about the instantaneous feelings it provokes.
Alan Palomo, the one-man band behind it all, is known as one of the pioneers of the chillwave genre. But Palomo could care less about labels, happier to spend his time tinkering with delay pedals and distortion kits, and finding inspiration in everything from Japanese electronica to the psychedelic pop of The Flaming Lips, who he collaborated with earlier this year.
Old-school video games come to mind with the bright, bumbling start of “Future Sick,” where Palomo’s voice echoes behind synth squalls coated with vibrato. More beautiful is the short, sweet “Heart: Decay,” the second of a three song set (“Heart: Attack” and “Heart: Release” open and close the album) that carries a nostalgic theme throughout. “Hex Girlfriend” and “Halogen (I Could Be a Shadow)” are spitfires with infectious choruses, while the title track screams ‘80s so loud that John Hughes protégés are squirming in their seats.
Neon Indian’s gauzy textures, circular rhythms, and light-as-air choruses are a pleasure. Long past beach weather, Era Extraña will take listeners on a virtual picnic, a sonic reality so plush and immersive that it’s enough to bat away the snow in your eyelashes and the bitter winds. Like summer heat, Era Extraña radiates with enough passion to make life more than a little woozy.