Due out on April 22nd, Neon Trees’s third album, appropriately titled Pop Psychology, is the pre-summer album that will convince you that lead singer Tyler Glenn knows exactly what is going on in that hormonal teenaged or twenty-something head of yours.
At once familiar, uniquely honest, and catchy as hell, this ten-track record departs slightly from the folk-rock feel of 2012’s Picture Show, and introduces to listeners a sound that is more accessible to fans of mainstream ’80s- and ’90s-influenced pop-rock. The minimalistic and always up-beat guitar riffs couple with Glenn’s pleasantly nasal voice to make this the go-to album for dancing it out in your room or belting in the car on a summer night.
The first track, “21st Century Love,” essentially announces the theme of the album: the trials and tribulations of relationships in the age of texting, “friends with benefits”-ing, and mandated nonchalance. Lyrics such as “We become caught up in the trivial / My dear, we’re both a bit too cynical / Come close I’ll give you something spiritual” weave serious meaning into an otherwise light-hearted track.
“Text Me In The Morning,” the album’s second song, is notably different; it sounds more like The Fratellis’ version of alternative rock, due mostly to a shift in percussive style, but the track sticks to the theme of modern-day romantic struggles. “I Love You But I Hate Your Friends” showcases the vocal talent in the group and is most reminiscent of their earlier work on 2010’s Habits, while “Unavoidable” introduces female vocals to the mix and experiments with a techno-beat.
The final track of the album, ironically dubbed “First Things First,” feels like a triumphant exit for the Neon Trees: just after a gospel-like organ refrain and just before an unexpected guitar solo, Glenn croons, “You are never gonna get everything you want in this world / First things first, get what you deserve.” The album leaves the listener feeling motivated and pretty kick-ass.
Musically, Pop Psychology is just as contagious as the Neon Trees’s prior material, but the album’s poignant lyrics seem much more honest and personal, especially in the context of leading man Tyler Glenn’s recent decision to come out in Rolling Stone. We applaud his honesty both with himself and with his fans, and we thank him for the album that puts words to all of those romantic situations that your parents just “don’t get.”