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April 17, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Neon Trees makes mac-and-cheese music, which is apparent throughout their new album, Pop Psychology. The band’s comfort tunes go down easy, and though it’s seemingly easy to prepare, in a small serving, it’s unquestionably delicious.
That portion-control mindset has suited the band perfectly since the beginning. Neon Trees gained momentum when they opened for The Killers in 2008; their first album followed in 2010. Previous hits such as “Animal” and “Everybody Talks” are easy to digest and leave listeners craving more.
The group’s sound is power-pop lightly glazed with dance music and New Wave. Bright guitar tones and Tyler Glenn’s beckoning vocal swoops sound great on the radio, but an entire three-course meal of Kraft might leave anyone a bit queasy.
Their third and latest LP is a definite step forward in terms of consistency. More subdued and focused than previous efforts, it’s still loaded with hooks and a sense of fun. Album opener “Love in the 21st Century” sets the tone. The band has its pop-rock formula down to a science. Drums and guitar bounce off each other with Glenn hamming it up over shimmering synth lines.
Neon Trees’ music is more memorable when the energy is high; introspective moments in “Unavoidable” and “Foolish Behavior” come off as bland despite lovely keyboard work. Although while Glenn’s recent coming out in Rolling Stone makes for some important lyrical growth in “Living in Another World,” the track stands apart from the album as a whole. It’s pristinely presented, vaguely catchy but ultimately a bit lacking in substance. When you’re craving a midnight snack, Pop Psychology should satisfy your hunger.
Neon Trees - "I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)"