Don’t Sleep

For the independent music world, it might seem like a strange bad dream to have Mountain Dew start a record label and go around snatching upstart acts for a roster that looks like it’s run by someone at Vice. Sure, it’s a singles only label and Chuck Inglish of the The Cool Kids says it’s okay. Let’s just say I’m suspicious. I’m all for folks getting theirs. But where does soda end and where do I begin? Green Label Sound‘s most recent foray is via Neon Indian’s new single, “Sleep Paralysist”, which also happens to have been recorded and/or produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. Neon Indian is one Alan Palomo, who made a big splash last year with the characteristically 2009 song “Deadbeat Summer” and the album Psychic Chasms. According to Stereogum, he describes his sound as “Childhood re-contextualized through a psychedelic, lo-fi filter. The idea of memory before you were old enough to have memories.” I take it he means to suggest he was born in the late 80s and can’t remember what the music sounded like though he lived through some of it; he intends to replicate it nonetheless. And that’s all good when it’s good, which it is.

Neon Indian – Sleep Paralysist

Whereas “Deadbeat Summer” was enjoyable albeit largely forgettable, Neon Indian raise the stakes on this one. To begin, the aesthetic has been seriously glossed up on this one. The full stereo field pulses with swelling and arpeggiated synth sounds that make me wish I knew more about synthesizers than I do. And the songwriting is expertly catchy. The variations throughout the verses on the “something you don’t know, something I don’t know, something they don’t know” format is straight out of a professional songbook. While I can’t understand a lot of the words, what I think I hear immediately resonates. There’s a terrible dread in the moment of satisfaction at the knowledge that it will all come to an end naturally. Palomo sings in the chorus “I’m for you when I’m awake so just don’t sleep. In the morning it will all seem fake.” The solution to hanging on is simple; it is also impossible.

The only criticism I have of the track is that it’s full of harsh sibilance, something I find myself being especially sensitive to these days and something you would not expect of someone like Chris Taylor or anyone of such notoriety. There are so many tools for folks of some resource to avoid that problem. But don’t let my engineering gripe spoil it for you. This song’s a keeper.

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