Neon Trees: Picture Show - an Album Review
I remember sharing an outdoor stage with Neon Trees back at SXSW 2011 in Austin, Texas, and watching them perform for a pretty massive crowd. Sure, they had energy and emotion, but I was also taken back a little by the sporadic and vividly over-the-top attitude of lead singer, Tyler Glenn. I recall him getting frustrated with his sound at one point and taking it out on an acoustic guitar, smashing it into the corner of the stage. I wasn’t sure weather I despised him for it or respected him.
There’s no doubt that Neon Trees’ hit song Animal from their 2010 release Habits was about as radio-friendly as it gets with a rhythmatic groove and catchy melody. But fast forward two years and we have Neon Trees (www.fameisdead.com/) brand new release: Picture Show, and while it follows the same trend as a whole, I think it lacks the radio friendly hit that Animal was off of the Habits album.
Picture Show starts off with Moving in the Dark, a strong, upbeat track that rocks in the album - kicking off the new record with a bang, but decends with “Teenage Sounds” - with the title basically describing what the song sounds like. Teenage Sounds does kind of have the feel of a bunch of a teenagers in a garage awkwardly fumbling around with “their” sound.
The next two tracks: Everybody Talks and Mad Love are relatively compelling tracks, and probably the closest the album has to radio hits. I particularly like Mad Love, and I think part of that is in due part to the co-vocals of drummer Elaine Bradley which are a nice touch. With these tracks inparticular I find Glenn’s voice reminding me of Adam Levine of Maroon 5 - not in sound as much as in style, with the melodies sounding like something that Maroon 5 would put out. I also find it ironic that Neon Trees travelled and opened for The Killers as well, as their sound is obviously influenced by the Vegas natives, not to mention they’re their fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
After Mad Love, I found many of the remaining tracks very similar in style and substance. One track that did jump out to me was Trust, which almost had a Smashing Pumpkins feel from the Adore days - combining smooth vocals with electronic beats and synths. Also, the content mixes it up a little, talking about loyalty and trust.
At the end of the day though, you’ll have to judge for yourself whether or not you like Neon Trees and more specifically the Picture Show album. I think it’s missing what Habits had in some vital ways, and the band that got their name from the In-N-Out Burger sign still is right at the cusp of large, commercialized success. Overall, I would give the record a 2.5 out of 5 stars - not bad but not great either… Still, there are pockets of light and hints of excellence.
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