Taking the basic framework of his debut album and putting it into the hands of a big name producer, Alan Palomo has invested in the idea of bigger being better for his second effort as Neon Indian. Era Extrana knows it's strengths, which similarly to it's predecessor Psychic Chasms, is heady nostalgia, a video game aesthetic and a healthy dose of extravagance. The swollen sound is instantly perceptible and the leap from the bedroom to the studio is for the most part welcome. However just because you have more toys doesnít mean you need to play with them all at once, and itís this balance of adding flourishes for the sake of it that Palomo sometimes miscalculates.
Itís a problem that first rears its head on 'Blindside Kiss', the bloated third track that has shades of post-punk and could easily achieve the same volume without all of the fireworks thrown on top. Palomo commands a tighter ship on 'Polish Girl' and 'Hex Girlfriend', the songs that bookend Blindside Kiss, rarely leaving the pop spectrum and seemingly using the effects more organically. Theyíre fun to listen to and letís not forget how important that component was on Psychic Chasms. After all, no one should take synth driven pop songs too seriously.
Not to imply that the album doesnít have its darker moments. The title track is wonderfully gothic, crawling to its climax amidst a simple fretless bass riff and decaying synth lines. The change of tone gives the album less of the business as usual feel it could have had. It also alludes to Palomoís penchant for experimenting, something that Neon Indian is an obvious outlet for.
Despite this, the album heads towards the finish line without greatly changing things up from what has come before. At 42 minutes, Era Extrana isnít as brief as Psychic Chasms, but it feels similarly compact. Both albums house small ideas that have been given plenty of room to grow and expand, and if thereís one statement that Extrana seeks to make, itís that getting bigger is something Alan Palomo is very interested in indeed.