REVIEW: Neon Trees – “Picture Show”

[Apr. 17th 2012 – Universal Music Canada // Find it at: iTunes | Insound]


Pop can be pretentious when it’s retrospective and although Utah outfit Neon Trees rely on the shimmer of keys and colourful verses entwined with the rollercoaster that is love, there’s a lot more to them. Their sophomore take, Picture Show, may be a step back into the era of disposable cameras but the rampant beating of pop sensibility that occurs for 45 minutes is sensually captivating. With each hook, the album becomes electric; “Moving In The Dark” sets the pace preaching a new wave feel, surrendering to the dance punk tear of “Teenage Sounds” and strutting into the summer radio jam “Everybody Talks”, that has vocalist Tyler Glenn being seductively confident (“Hey baby won’t you look my way, I can be your new addiction”). And the thing is, pop records aren’t assembled this good. They usually leak out a profound single, maybe two, or three, and hope it can shoulder the weight of mediocrity.

Picture Show does the opposite, almost to the point you speculate if Glenn’s purebred coolness helps birth new addictions with a minute dose of his provocative vocabulary. Comforted and aroused by gripping bass tones (“Lessons In Love”, “Trust”) and the affection instilled in Elaine Bradley and Chris Allen’s drum-guitar duets (“Still Young”), it’s clear there’s room to be bolder and to gratifyingly pull you closer to Neon Trees’ composite of alt rock affection. Still, there’s enough appeal and authenticity to make songs bloom, not deflate; filtered with jumpy bass and a funk heavy stride, “Weekend” shows the band’s ear for hooks that can combine the foundation of 1979’s Off The Wall and the lesser-known attributes of The Strokes to make one of their best works yet. It’s as if Neon Trees understand what pop is and just want to groom it as their own. If it’s this good, it should be all theirs.

Download: “Everybody Talks”, “Weekend”, “Still Young”

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