I don’t like backtracking as much as the next reviewer, but in the case of Neon Trees, I kind of have to. I stated in the music section of our Looking Forward To section earlier this month that their music would fill in the electric-alternative hole that The Killers left for us a couple of years ago. And yeah, their first single “Animal” still gets plenty of air time on some radio stations (and it had PLENTY when it was the commercial song for Las Vegas), but it didn’t catapult the band into the band that The Killers is – and technically still are.
But the biggest difference between The Killers and Neon Trees is the consistency of The Killers. After one song fizzled out, they had a song in their back pockets that they can throw out there and be as, if not more, accepted than the last. For Neon Trees, it wasn’t exactly public knowledge that “1983” was released as the second single off of Habits. Instead, people just kept playing “Animal” until it got imprinted into our subconscious. Luckily, with their newest release Picture Show, they put out a single this year that should eclipse it’s predecessors. But that’s really all that the album will bring.
The first single off of Picture Show is “Everybody Talks,” a rambunctious 80’s throwback that just screams for some radio play. The song’s accessibility surpasses what “Animal” did for them in 2010, and is getting them lots of respectable air time because of it. Unlike The Killers, however, Picture Show doesn’t have any other stand-out singles that can follow it. Some catchier standouts like “Lessons In Love (All Day, All Night)(feat. Kaskade),” “Teenage Sounds” and “Weekend” are some nice pieces of ear-candy; the middle of the three being a lot more menacing and vibrant than anything they’ve put out yet. And “Weekend” has probably the strongest vocal points that Tyler Glenn offers up on the album.
But when those songs are over with, you are left with an album that tried to place itself into a weird, non-entertaining electronic funk. “Close To You” sounds oddly like an upbeat version of College’s “A Real Hero” off of the Drive soundtrack, the latter of the two being the better song. “I Am The DJ” is an emotionless mixture of an upgraded Cobra Starship-style hooks mixed with Dead or Alive’s wordplay on “You Spin Me Round.” The worst track on the twelve song album is “Trust,” a six-minute electro-ballad mixed with am awful PSA, giving us the “no duh” message that trust isn’t always a good thing. I can even imagine the Robert Palmer “Addicted To Love” band in the background just wiggling around as this song plays.
One complaint that I have to mention is some of the track lengths of some of the songs. About half of the songs here go over four minutes, four of those going over five. And listening to the album, I got to the point that I was ready for those songs to end (especially the six minute “Trust”). Needless to say, the album will wear you down throughout, depending really on how much electric rehash you can stand.
Neon Trees have all the potential in the world to be the new shining darlings of the alternative music scene – if it wasn’t for the solid releases that Gotye and fun. put out earlier this year. Instead, Neon Trees will probably fall in the background. And unlike the easy analogy that I can plug here, “Everybody Talks” will make a noise. But nothing else on Picture Show will.
Final Grade: C-
Go Download: “Everybody Talks”
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