Alan Palomo has been around for a while. Since the late 00s he’s been releasing music under various names, with Neon Indian being the best-known. Often pegged – somewhat erroneously – as ‘chillwave’, Palomo incorporated vintage synths to create swathes of retro sounds, resulting in curiously forward-facing pop. Now he’s releasing music under his own name. It’s kind of business as usual but, as expected, there are some twists.
Palomo’s debut album ‘World Of Hassle’ introduces itself with ‘The Wailing Mall’, opening with strains from the love theme from Blade Runner. You know the one. Cascading synths. Romantic sax. Muted beats. Then Palomo’s vocals emerge. Husky. Half-spoken and half-rhymed. They’re sensual, but edgy. Here he delivers the finest lyric of the album “I had no star-spangled manner, no yippee ki-yay”. The song is about finding your way in a messed-up world. The song is set in 1994. There are references to malls, Payless shops, T2: Judgement Day, Rainforest Café and Die Hard. It’s a fun way to start the album.
‘La Madrilena’ is about as catchy as ‘World Of Hassle’ gets. The song is sung in Spanish and seems to be about spotting someone you like the look of – and trying to find them, but never quiet managing it. Unrequited love, or lust, is something we can all relate to, but it’s never sounded this sexy before. ‘Stay-at-Home DJ’ is a fun play on people working from home due to lockdown(s). The melodies come at you fast. They bore their way into your head and the mantra-like lyrics “all night long, with the radio on’ and “everyone’s a DJ” not only sum up the period quite well but also appear from your mouth when you least expect it. The album closes with ‘Trouble In Mind’. Waves lap on a shore; everything is sun soaked; luscious melodies pour from the speakers. The tempo is slow. Synths wail. It’s all pretty chill. To call it the album’s strongest track is pretty fair. It’s bliss.
Overall, the album sounds like the cult Swiss electronic band Yello covering Prince while being produced by Vangelis. This is to be expected, given Alan Palomo’s past output and influences. ‘World Of Hassle’ works incredibly well. The songs are well arranged, and everything sounds incredible. The only downside is that lack of variety. All the songs are of a similar tempo, tone, and theme. There is little to distinguish them – a bit more diversity wouldn’t have gone amiss. Saying that ‘World Of Hassle’ is pretty fun and has some killer melodies.
Words: Nick Roseblade