Album Review

Neon Trees "Picture Show"

Chad W. Lutz
I won’t lie. When I first got a hold of this album, I thought I was picking up a fresh Neon Indians LP. When I checked the file again to find Neon Trees printed clear as day on the cover I almost thought about trashing the file and moving on to the next one (if only out of mental embarrassment). But I gave it a listen and was pleasantly surprised with the result.

Released on Mercury Records April 17, 2012, Neon Trees’ Picture Show demonstrates a retro band fusing modern pop syncopation and catchy hooks with an already time-tested format. As I listened to the eleven-track Picture Show I couldn’t help but feel like I was listening to a Blondie cut at times. At others, Maroon 5; only this album didn’t quite move like Jagger.

Falling in at 46:30, Picture Show explores teenage themes of angst, trust, love, youth, and living for the weekend. Melancholy at times, but overall bouncy and jovial, Picture Show stands as a solid follow-up and expands upon similar themes found in the band’s 2010 release Habits. Tracks range in length from 2:57 (Everybody Talks) to 6:05 (Trust), with the majority of the cuts averaging roughly 4:30. The first single off the album, “Everybody Talks”, debuted on the Billboard December 20, 2011 and peaked at number 40.

While the overall style and presentation was technically sound, including doo-whop intros and a Michael Franti sort of charge present throughout the album, many of the tracks sounded flat and missing some crucial element good music must possess. The tracks are pleasant, bubbly, and bouncy, effervescing a positive, yet passive, feel. At times it seems as though Neon Trees sacrificed lyrical content for over-the-top instrumentals. Of all the tracks, “Trust” stands as one of the most lyrically complete songs on the album, but still fails to pack any real punch.

What Neon Trees lack lyrically they make up for in the ability to create danceable rhythms and enjoyable melodies. I listened to the album at work and found myself bobbing my head in rhythm on numerous occasions without even realizing it. Maroon 5 fans will enjoy cuts like “Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night)” (3:46) and “Still Young” (5:07). However, I still can’t help but wish this was a Neon Indians LP.