By CADE MILLER
AS A LONGTIME fan of Alan Palomo’s work under the Neon Indian moniker, I can safely say that “VEGA Intl. Night School” was worth the four-year wait. On this record, Palomo manages to craft a very funky, chaotic sound that is both endearingly cheesy and refreshingly original. It is easy to see why Palomo incorporated VEGA — the name of his extremely groovy and danceable side project — into the record’s title, because it takes the sounds of both his Neon Indian and VEGA projects and throws them together in a blender (from the 1980s, of course). The record itself starts off strong, with instrumental opener “Hit Parade” providing a perfect sampler platter of sounds to expect; it is immediately followed by the fun and catchy lead single “Annie” and the colorful “Street Level.” This hot streak continues without a single hiccup (another key highlight is the wonderfully gaudy march of “Dear Skorpio Magazine”) until the instrumental “Slumlord’s Re-Lease,” which is interesting but ultimately an unnecessary and overlong epilogue to the excellent “Slumlord.”
It is at this point where the record begins to lose the steam it had maintained so well for most of its runtime. The tracks “Techno Clique” and “Baby’s Eyes” are well-written, but are sadly too repetitive to justify their six-minute runtimes. The track “C’est La Vie (say the casualties!)” is an enjoyably anthemic rebound, but the next track, “61 Cygni Ave.,” has a melody so jarringly similar to the one in “Annie” that it is nearly impossible to enjoy. The closing track is a live recording that is too corny for its own good.
All in all, “VEGA Intl. Night School” is a rock solid record that is bursting at the seams with fun and a rainbow of colors, and the phenomenal first three quarters more than make up for its lackluster ending. The album is perfect for dorm parties, social gatherings, and singing at the top of your lungs in front of the mirror with a toothbrush (not that I would know from personal experience, of course).
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: “The Glitzy Hive,” “Dear Skorpio Magazine,” “Street Level,” “Slumlord”