Neon Trees - Pop Psychology

by Laura Clarke

I was thrilled to hear that Neon Trees had brought out a new album. In 2010 their hit single, Animal, showcased uniqueness in their style by encompassing pop, electro and indie-esque sounds. Youth and energy were the main components to be depicted in the early stages of their work. Pop Psychology, on the other hand, left me feeling rather flat.

The whole album is juvenile, even down to the song titles, such as Teenager In Love and I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends). After the fourth or fifth song about young romance to a relentless jack-hammer-like backing track, I was bored and irritated. The lazy use of full rhyme in inappropriate places is a pet peeve of mine. For example, in Foolish Behaviour:

I guess I’ve always been this way, it’s been hard for me to say, close my eyes it’ll go away.

Hardly ingenious song writing. This indicates an absence of any real thought, and left me uninspired. Music, in my opinion, is best when it oozes uniqueness. All enchantment is gone when I am able to guess the next line to a song. It’s just wrong.

Most of the tracks are catchy, but unpleasantly so. Teenager In Love and Text Me In The Morning are catchy in ways that make you turn to your friend and complain about the annoying song in your head. The lyrics also lack any apparent consideration. I find curious the words, “When all the other boys just want your sex, I just want your text in the morning” in the latter. Firstly, the protagonist must care little about his love interest if he would sneak out before the sun rises. Secondly, “I couldn’t stick around” is a fairly poor excuse for said sneaking out. I think it quite presumptuous to expect a text in light of such unsavoury conduct.

Far cooler and more refreshing is the opening verse of Sleeping With A Friend; the backing track is less hyperactive for a start. Yet the song’s story is far too analogous with the previous track. I practically experienced a flashback of the great predicament taking place before Text Me In The Morning, of whether or not the protagonist should sleep with his friend. We already know that he slept with her so any air of mystery and intrigue is missing. Unless, of course, said love interest is different in which case Miss Text Me In The Morning should DEFINITELY not text him back.

Moving on to less green pastures, I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends) makes no sense lyrically. The song rapidly jumps from the protagonist putting lipstick on and kissing his significant other’s sister, to him hating on her friends (what a lucky lady). The incredibly mature reasoning behind why he hates her friends is overzealous and unconvincing; they are “desperate” and “always on to the next big thing” – a bit whiny if you ask me.

Nevertheless, there is hope for the album after all. Love In The 21st Century definitely gets my foot tapping. I can picture myself on a warm West-Country summer’s day listening to this track and feeling great about life – hooray! The introduction of a female vocalist in Unavoidable was a novel development, considering the shortage of any significant differentiation between the other songs. The lyrics, once more, are lacking any poetic or other form of genius but at this juncture I had accepted that my world would neither be rocked nor pebbled by this album. Also distinctive is the sound of Voices In The Hall; the slower melody adds previously scarce diversity in style, and pleasantly suspends the monotony of the rest of the album. Moreover, First Things First is stimulatingly earnest. The song depicts the time when band mates Tyler and Chris formed Neon Trees, and embarked upon the road to success in a highly competitive industry. The chorus did not illuminate me with joy, but at least my interest was piqued.

Pop Psychology has a few tunes which are pleasing to the ear, but mostly the album possesses a dearth of creativity. By all means, take a listen. I, on the other hand, shall seek to get these annoying songs out of my head.