Release Date: Apr 17, 2012
Record label: Mercury
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Committed to modern youth and old New Wave, Neon Trees are the all-Mormon Utah four-piece who hit big with the exasperatingly sticky "Animal." On their second LP, they still favor mannered Anglophile synth pop that has somehow retained its "alternative" branding three decades after the Eighties. Rants like "Teenage Sounds" and wide-eyed whooshers like "Still Young" are all adolescent angst and cool-kid romance. "Everybody Talks" opens with the kind of ascending harmonies Bowie's "Let's Dance" took from "At the Hop"; "Trust" is a New Order facsimile.
Neon Trees' debut Habits was only eight songs long, almost more of an EP than a true album, yet they made the most of it, taking their Strokes-meets-Killers pop in a far more mainstream direction than either of those influences with the joyfully hedonistic hit "Animal. " Two years later, Picture Show proves that the band's flair for writing almost aggravatingly catchy songs is as strong as ever, particularly on the "Animal"-esque bounce of "Everybody Talks," the guitar-heavy version of the 2011 hit they had with Kaskade, "Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night)," and the frothy album closer "I Am the DJ. " Along with the Killers' side project Big Talk, Neon Trees bring back a true pop/rock sound that's bright, shiny and undeniably kinetic but not necessarily aimed at the dancefloor.
”I’m sick of people saying rock & roll is dead,” frontman Tyler Glenn laments on the angsty ”Teenage Sounds.” Indeed, the Utah quartet — discovered, tellingly, by the Killers — seem to have arrived too late. Picture Show‘s mixed bag of angular post-punk, moody synths, and blasts of mainstream rock (see ”Everybody Talks”) doesn’t quite have the wit, charm, or cool of its aughties touchstones. What remains is a handful of good-enough offerings to fill the ”rock” spot on pop radio between fun.
“I’m sick of people saying rock ’n’ roll is dead,” howls Neon Trees vocalist Tyler Glenn on “Teenage Sounds,” the second song on his band’s sophomore album, Picture Show. On its face, it’s a puzzling declaration, given that the band’s ubiquitous 2010 hit “Animal” sent them to the head of Top 40 programmers’ playlists due to its peppy pop charm. But the quartet never really fit with their radio dial peers; while “Animal” was blowing up, the group were instead opening tours for the likes of My Chemical Romance and the Killers.