Neon Trees released their brand new album Pop Psychology today and I’m giving it a first listen right now. I have to applaud vocalist Tyler Glenn for coming out as gay recently and I appreciate the way they they integrated the that event with the overall mood of the the album. It’s the third studio release from the Utah-based rock band and
Initial impressions are that it’s pretty much the same kind of sugary danceable rock and roll we got on 2012′s radio-friendly Picture Show. Not doing anything new, but they’re not really doing the old thing badly either. It’s a very vanilla, very Pop album, but lacking in discernible “psychology.” The most honest and nuanced track is “Living In Another World,” which feels like a response to Glenn’s Mormon upbringing, feeling trapped in the closet and restricted by a religion that views homosexual relations as a “serious transgression” on par with theft, rape, and murder.
On Pop Psychology we see Glenn channeling those frustrations while simultaneously indulging in the frivolous tissue-paper attitudes toward sexuality, as evidenced on one of the album’s more memorable tracks, “Sleeping With a Friend,” which borrows liberally from 80′s solo greats like George Michael and Peter Gabriel; “Voices in the Hall” works as a bittersweet break up ballad with a twist of optimism. Featuring lush synths and well placed harmonies buttressing lead singer Tyler Glenn’s syrupy baritone, “Voices in the Halls” is the crown jewel of this otherwise tepid release. Clocking in at a succinct 2:59, it’s an island of true poetry before “Foolish Behavior” returns us to the sea of Top 40-programmed camp. Seriously, I thought Bruno Mars was guest singing on this one. Doesn’t even sound like the same band.
As far as longevity goes, this record should do pretty well with the mainstream. I can see “Teenager in Love” getting some major radio love. It’s got all the elements of a successful pop diddy: easy accessible lyrics “In your bedroom, let’s go to heaven,” an instantly catchy melody, and the requisite clap track. The album suffers from a bit of pandering, as evidenced on forgettable tracks like “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends),” and “Unavoidable;” the latter attempts to emulate Stars-style duet between Glenn and drummer Elaine Bradley, but with lines like “I am a magnet/You are metallic” it comes off sounding like a studi0-mandated inclusion lacking in genuine heart and thought.
If you’re a fan of Neon Trees, you’ll appreciate Pop Psychology. If this is your first exposure to the band, I have a feeling you’ll be underwhelmed.
My Rating: 5.5/10