Neon Trees Fails to Infect

Neon Trees tries to do a number of things with their latest album, “Picture Show.” From straight-up rock and roll tracks like their first single “Everybody Talks” to ‘80s-influenced, synth-driven tracks like “Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night),” Neon Trees bounces back and forth between these two musical textures but never really manages to find a happy middle ground.

That’s not to say “Picture Show” is a bad album with bad songs; in fact, I quite enjoyed the effort that was put into making each of the songs stand out from one another. However, I can’t help but still feel like there’s something missing with each of the songs that pushes them into the realm of me wanting to play the songs over and over again. They’re just not infectious, for lack of a better term. They’re good, yes; great, not exactly.

Neon Trees explores a range of topics with the songs on this album, from the music industry (with “Teenage Sounds”) to the omnipresent theme of love with tracks like “Mad Love” and “Tell Me You Love Me.” I found myself chuckling a bit with “Teenage Sounds,” with lyrics like “I’m tired of everybody trying to be a DJ / Yeah I can also pick my favorite songs and press play / I’m sick of people saying rock and roll is dead / Learn how to play guitar and save yourself instead.” Singer Tyler Glenn is clearly expressing his frustration with the current state of affairs with the music industry and the way that music is perceived, which isn’t a new theme, but I found it refreshing with this particular song.

With songs like “Mad Love,” the ’80s synth-pop influence on the band stands out more than ever. With a synth and flanger-driven guitar lines and an upbeat drum rhythm, it’s easy to imagine this song being played at your parents’ high school prom. While cheesy, it’s hard not to find singing along to the hooks that the band puts together. While nothing particularly new or innovative, these songs are fun and worth giving a listen if you’re into the genre or just want an album with some fun tracks to dance along to. “Weekend” is another good one along this vein.

On the other end of things, there are also a couple tracks that are on the slow side. “Trust” is a more serious song that explores the topic and still maintains some of the dance elements of the other songs on the album but is still different enough to provide a noticeable contrast. “Close to You” is another slower one, but also manages to keep my interest throughout its five-minute length.

While Neon Trees isn’t breaking any new ground with “Picture Show,” it’s an album worth exploring if you’re a fan of the band or the genre of music. Hell, older generations might like the album because of its nostalgic, retro feel from a number of their tracks. Just don’t expect to have to your mind blown — this is a fun album with some intermittent serious themes, but not much more than that.

Rating: 3 out of 5