We have all heard “Animal” and “Everybody Talks” blasting on the radio one too many times. These songs quickly rocketed their way to the top of everyone’s “annoying, but catchy mainstream songs” mental list to never play again — ever. There are reasons that these songs are extremely popular: The American pop band Neon Trees is extremely talented, unique and diverse in repertoire. And the band’s new album, Pop Psychology, which dropped April 22, has once again proven their reputation true as an eccentric group that produces catchy music that can please almost everybody’s varying tastes.
“Maniacs,” the pet name for their fans, are used to more rock-heavy songs. But Pop Psychology will also provide a surprising showcase of a new mellow maturity that highlights how Neon Trees members have grown as musicians: less drums, more guitar, synth and vocals. This album is an overall step toward the pop and electro genres that seem to be all over the charts. Their first single released from the album, “Sleeping With a Friend,” is an upbeat, smooth jam that will undoubtedly lift anybody’s spirits on a bad day.
Don’t worry just yet, die-hard Neon Trees fans. This is not a step toward mainstream artists such as Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Rather, Neon Trees is still making its own unique voice outside the usual pop music driver. This album just seems to show the true colors and niche of the band: pop with many influences of electro, punk and rock. This Utah band is growing up and figuring out their sound -— and Pop Psychology is definitely a step in the right direction.
As their album name articulates, this record truly does study the varying versions of pop. It mirrors the many forms of mainstream music that people love. Neon Trees artfully mixes different genres together to create a unique sounding record. Each song has an interesting mix of electro and acoustic music with beautiful vocals that toes the line between “hipster,” folk band and Fall Out Boy-rock. This wide array of songs could easily be played at a large dinner party with no complaints.
Similar to the fresh sound of this band, their lyrics take on the usual subjects of mainstream music but with a twist. “Love in the 21st Century” tackles dating in the technological age, “I don’t believe making out is a dead romance / I miss the days being kids we’d be holding hands / I’m sick of wondering if you would ever call me back / I check my four different accounts.” “Living in Another World” describes self-empowerment: “TVs telling me to be myself / I can’t trust what the neon psychic sells / So I found out how to trust myself / I found out that I’m stronger than the pills.” These lyrics show off the original and witty songwriting that is usually missing from today’s top hits. But they are just as easy for fans to scream at the top of their lungs.
Neon Trees has proven on this album that the band can stretch and mold its sound in many different forms. Pop Psychology has something for everyone’s taste. As a memorable pop album with a unique spin on the average hits of today, it could prove to be Neon Trees’ successful coming-of-age record; they finally found their place in the musical world, or at least came very close.
As a genre classification, this album has a distinctive enough sound to be considered indie. The band’s overall electro-pop agenda still makes it accessible to a wide audience while still appealing to that music snob who enjoys banjos in songs. So, if you like drinking out of mason jars while jamming along to Taylor Swift, this borderline hipster, pop album is for you. And it will simultaneously impress those indie friends and die-hard boy band fans.