If the ’80s Brat Pack classic “The Breakfast Club” had ended not with Judd Nelson’s fist in the air but with a nuclear meltdown, Neon Indian’s new album, “Era Extrana,” would have been a great choice to play over the movie’s end credits.
For Alan Palomo, the 23-year-old musician behind the chillwave band, the blending of adolescent dreams with end-of-the-world imagery served as a creative entry point for the album. “The idea that a teenage narrative could live on long after the world has fallen into a weird place of static” set the sonic tone for “Era Extrana,” which Palomo wrote and recorded in an efficiency apartment in Helsinki, Finland, last winter. (The disc was released Tuesday.)
Like its predecessor, 2009′s “Psychic Chasms,” “Era Extrana” straddles the lines between past, present and future. It’s nostalgic for the ’80s while still rooted in current pop trends. With its heavy synths and more polished production, the disc has a futuristic vibe, evoking an era yet to come.
It’s all pretty heady stuff for a Texas native who, up until about two years ago, spent most of his time working at a burrito shop and the rest of it hanging around the house. Palomo had previously recorded a dance-pop EP under the moniker Vega, but Neon Indian started getting national attention almost immediately. He recorded “Psychic Chasms” alone in his bedroom in a month, and the disc helped usher in a new genre of lo-fi psych pop dubbed chillwave. For the next 18 months, Palomo lived on the road, touring around the world.
Only upon returning to Texas was Palomo able to reflect on the journey he’d been on, and he realized he needed to take a step back.
“Personality is like a muscle,” he says. “The more you hang out with people you know, the more it instills that [inflated] sense of self. I really needed to get away from that, to just hit the reset button and have the same conversations [in my head] that I always had with myself.”
So, Palomo ran off to Helsinki, rented the apartment, and wrote and recorded what would become “Era Extrana.”
“In its own way, by going to Helsinki,” he says, “it’s like that apartment was my burrito shop.”Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE; Fri., 10 p.m., $15; 202-388-7625.