Neon Trees - Picture Show
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Record Label: Island
If you’re not like me, you probably know at least something about Neon Trees prior to hearing their sleek sophomore album Picture Show. I, on the other hand, have a bit of distain in radio and have a hard time tuning into anything on television. But aside from what popularity Glee helped shine on the super sweet melodies of “Animal”, Neon Trees is very much a band poised to further their break into the mainstream. Picture Show seems to prove just that, as the band sounds more confident in their new wave ways than ever before – leaving us with an album that is too fun to listen to just once.
The sound of Picture Show is rather nostalgic and futuristic at the same time, marrying ‘80s-sounding textures with pop-rock sensibility that provides a plethora of addicting melodies that almost ache to be heard in a live setting. Energetic and cosmic, “Teenage Sounds” is driving and layered in a way that focuses in on the right parts at the right time. Here, the biting, honest lyricism (‘I’m tired of everybody tryin’ to be a DJ. I can also play my favorite songs and press play.’) is center stage to an entrancing musical backdrop that would almost seem to encourage some sort of physical requirement to listening to it. It is also perhaps the weirdest we hear Neon Trees get on the whole record. “Weekend” shows a similar structure, and it works just as well. Spiking vocal lines tip the wavering balance of new wave guitars and simple, yet confident drumming. The nostalgia goes back even further on single “Everybody Talks”, plucking a barbershop introduction for a bright, poppy chorus and simple, yet catchy strumming in the verse. It’s a solid choice for a single as well, as the build-and-strain vocal lines cut like a hot knife in the band’s buttery songwriting.
But even in less energy-releasing tempos, Neon Trees seem to still contain themselves in their element. “Lessons in Love” is production heavy, but makes up for it with an strong dance-ready pulse that seemingly never lets us up for a breath even when the instrumentation pulls back a bit. “Trust” leans heavily on piano and lighter melodies at first, while boasting toe-tapping percussion and smooth bass later on. It isn’t the most memorable thing here, but it keeps the ambiance in mind without sacrificing rhythm or variation. It all doesn’t work as well as it could though. As much as most of the pieces seem to be in place, “Mad Love” never quite takes off, suffering from a bout with repetition and seemingly unfinished ideas. It’s super poppy, and that is fine, but the song feels like it is missing that spark the rest of these tracks seem to have. “Hooray for Hollywood” suffers from a bit of restraint and staleness, with a dud of a chorus that just seems uncharacteristic of the rest of the album.
Strong when it needs to be and at least formidable otherwise, Picture Show may not have as much mainstream appeal as a song like “Animals”, but it definitely shows a band honed in on creating enjoyable, addicting tracks that seem fresh without losing the hint of the past this album seems thankfully unable to shake. This is a perfect album for the summer, or the spring... or pretty much anytime you need something bursting with fun melodies.
Good review. I also didn't pay much attention to this band prior to this record besides Animal, but I enjoyed this quite a bit and will probably put it on repeat listens once the weather matches the record's mood.
I found out about these guys when I heard Everybody Talks on the radio. I decided to grab their vinyl release on Record Store Day and then I picked up the album two days ago. Definitely a great band on the rise and a really fun album.
Can't believe Mad Love was dissed! That song is gorgeous, and I love how they turned it into a duet. That song, aside from Everybody Talks and Moving In The Dark are the only songs that even caught my attention, unfortunately (Weekend is o/k, too). In my opinion, it's actually some of the other songs that are missing the spark that THOSE 3 have.