Neon Trees – Pop Psychology (Album Review)


Neon_Trees_Pop_Psychology_coverWith an angst-laden and often humorous examination of love, courting, and sex in the digital age, Neon Trees’ third studio album Pop Psychology delivers a barrage of catchy hooks and emotional content. While their sound exudes a sort of bubble-gum pop fun well timed for summer release, it comes in a form listeners will be familiar with for the most part. Reminiscent of Rooney of the early 2000’s, their songs and progression are less contemplative in their rumination than they are a quick paced digital lament. There is plenty to be enjoyed here in the form of downright fun and catchy tunes; however, amidst the fun there is less depth than one would hope for and a disappointing lack of memorable content to keep listeners engaged after an initial listen.

One wonders if frontman Tyler Glenn’s recent coming out fueled the angst that is so present here. Pop Psychology is less a critique and more an episodic sampling of the pains and pitfalls digital convenience has brought to our relationships. Their first and second tracks “Love in the 21st century” and “Text Me In The Morning” bring this out most notably with a clash of saccharine tunes and overly emo lyrics.

“Tears on my phone, Feeling so alone
I’ll never let you go, You’ve got the best of me
When all the other boys just want your sex
I just want your text, In the morning”

More often than not, modern technology seems the stumbling block to fully realized intimacy and connection here, often seemingly through the adolescent perspective. However, though Neon Trees ambitiously grasp for depth and meaning in relationships the one-note nature of the seemingly endless string of familiar hooks from song to song can grow monotonous. An intriguing break in that is the stand out song, “Unavoidable,” featuring drummer Elaine Bradley and Glenn joining harmonic forces in a fast paced duet that adds a different dimension to the latter half of the record.

They clearly exhibit a passion and talent for vibrant pop; that said, Neon Trees could afford to remove the training-wheels of dipping too frequently into the familiar, well-worn tread of the easily digestible, middle-of-the-road radio-friendly sound. There’s some wit here, and even smart anecdotes on our social media-driven culture, which will keep listeners thinking while they tap their feet, but with uninspired music backing that type of sharp cultural reflection, the result is a somewhat hollow offering from a band that’s shown they’re capable of much more.

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