Neon Trees – Picture Show

written by: April 25, 2012
Neon Trees - Picture Show album cover Release Date: April 17th, 2012

★★½☆☆

Neon Trees is a band comprised of five Mormons on the verge of adult contemporary who will remain a one-hit wonder if any songs from their new album fail to achieve notoriety like “Animal” did a few years ago. Until then, they’ll remain in the background as a pleasant and unique-sounding group of musicians.

The band has a sound that is beat-heavy and on the more electronic side of alternative rock. Led by scratchy vocalist Tyler Glenn, they possess an individuality and a spice of personality that every song emulates in its verses.  Their strength lies in their ability to choose a good beat to lead every song, a consistency throughout new Picture Show that their naïve first output did not.

If you give it a chance, Picture Show can be mesmerizing at times, full of energy and valiant effort that aims to produce a higher peak than previous album Habits did. The bulk of this new album is actually much nicer than their debut, an honorable success through a few years of touring and producing.

Perhaps the “Animal” of Neon Trees’ second album, “Everybody Talks” has all the elements necessary for a chart climber from the band. The most universally likeable song on Picture Show carries the story of a lust for a woman, full of careful descriptors and playful analogies. People might really like this song because it is considerably catchy and upbeat. As with most radio-friendly hits, though, “Everybody Talks” falls short of awe-inspiring wisdom. It’s fun though.

“I Am The D.J.” lands right behind “Everybody Talks” in likeability, closing the album on a light note with great style and glamour. Just as the first sparked a charming universal factor, “I Am The D.J.” is easy to tap your foot to but still lacking in the lyric department. It chimes “I am the D.J./You are the record I play/I will not scratch the surface/Does it still make you nervous?” and underwhelms emotionally but still stands out as a valiant audio effort.

Picture Show as a whole is confusing because when the music gets good and fun to hear, the words lack substance and deeper meaning beneath superficial motives. It works vice versa, too, where words are wise and fulfilling, they aren’t accompanied by the finest beats and melodies. There is no great balance at any point along the compilation and it becomes increasingly disappointing as the listener travels further through the album.

“Trust,” for example, is an insightful eye into the games of loyalty, is paired with some dark and dusty sounds that aren’t current or relevant or exciting as they passionately explain “the thing about trust.”

It’s hard to tell who Neon Trees were aiming to gear their tunes toward. Who listens to Neon Trees? Young hipsters? Moms and dads? Tattooed biker dudes? Generally, a band has a certain crowd that comes out to see their shows and buy their records but it’s hard to tell who does this for the Utah band. Their style is so individualistic that it doesn’t quite fit the alternative rock category yet still isn’t absurd enough to be considered anything else. Or perhaps they aren’t meant to be categorized at all. Judge for yourself as you buzz through Picture Show.

Neon Trees – Picture Show tracklist:

  1. “Moving in the Dark”
  2. “Teenage Sounds”
  3. “Everybody Talks”
  4. “Mad Love”
  5. “Weekend”
  6. “Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night)”
  7. “Trust”
  8. “Close to You”
  9. “Hooray for Hollywood”
  10. “Still Young”
  11. “I Am the D.J.”