Neon Trees: “Pop Psychology”
[Mercury, Def Jam, 2014]
by Lauren Hornberger
Two years after the release of Picture Show, Neon Trees is back with an album that is perfect for the summer. Pop Psychology, Neon Trees’ third album, mixes elements from previous albums with an ’80s influence to create pop rock hits that you will want to blast all through the sunniest months.
While the single, “Sleeping with a Friend,” has been climbing the charts, Pop Psychology is more than just that one hit song. Although keeping with their habit of shorter albums ranging from 8-11 songs, there are a couple that could easily be released this summer as singles and make it on the pop radio charts. “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)” is a fast-paced dance tune that sounds like a more polished version of a song you would find on their first album, Habits. It takes the sounds from Habits and fine-tunes them, yet keeps the same theme of rocky relationships and youthfulness in modern times. Neon Trees illustrates that theme perfectly in the song, “Love in the 21st Century,” with lyrics that discuss how people can check up on each other through social media and how it can all be over with one click and a status change. The song talks about the evolution of relationships from when holding hands and making out was enough to now when technology is such an integral part of our lives.
Neon Trees takes a break from the fast-paced songs that the album features to bring “Voices in the Halls” and “Unavoidable.” “Voices in the Halls” is a beautiful, heartbreaking song with eerie sounds that brings to life the image of someone wandering at night hoping the one they loved would come back to them. “Unavoidable” marks the second time Elaine Bradley, drummer for Neon Trees, supplies vocals for a track. Unlike the first time on the track “Mad Love” from Picture Show where Bradley only had a few bars, “Unavoidable” showcases her vocals. The duet between Tyler Glenn, lead singer for the band, and Bradley adds a new, unique element for them that helps elevate the album.
“First Things First” is another possible hit single, especially given the fact that the music video was released the same day as the album. The song chronicles the band’s journey and the lessons they have learned including making sure you get what you deserve before you go after what you want. It is a winding song that is like a journey of its own, with the beginning similar to Train’s “California 37.” The song includes several elements from guitar solos to a chorus to clapping. It settles down and fades out at the end with the sound of ocean waves in the background, which is also the end of the album.
Overall, the album is a fantastic follow-up to Picture Show. However, these types of songs are expected from Neon Trees, and it would be good to add in new elements and mix it up more in the future. In the meantime, you can catch Neon Trees on their tour, which comes through Tucson on June 4th.