The Neon Trees combines sound from The Killers and The Strokes while adding its own personal touch to create a unique sound. After the debut album, “Habits,” Provo, Utah-based synth rockers Neon Trees, spent a couple years touring the country with various bands, among them Panic! at the Disco and The Strokes.
Singer and keyboardist Tyler Glenn leads the Neon Trees, along with other band members being Chris Allen, Branden Campbell and Elaine Bradley. In 2012, they released their sophomore album “Picture Show,” hoping to continue their rise to the upper echelon of alternative bands.
The first song on the album, “Moving in the Dark,” starts off heavy on the synth before the full band switches to rock. From there, they keep rocking through angst-ridden “Teenage Dreams” and into the single from the album “Everybody Talks.” The Neon Trees kept going for previous decades’ sounds, with a ’50s sound in “Everybody Talks.”
Apart from that brief foray into the ’50s, most of the sound inspiration comes from the ’80s. Almost every song after “Everybody Talks” sounds like it came straight from the ’80s. “Trust” is a six-minute experimental throwback to ’80s synth-pop, but it doesn’t seem to hook the listener until the chorus.
“Weekend” and “Lessons in Love” bring the tempo back up and support the middle of the album.
“Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night)” is a rare remix with fellow Provo resident Kaskade. Kaskade released a song called “Lessons in Love” with Glenn Tyler, singing in late 2011, and the Neon Trees added a rock backing track to it instead of Kaskade’s electronic sound.
The Neon Trees followed its formula of sprinkling slow songs into an otherwise high-energy album with “Mad Love,” “Trust,” “Close to You” and “Still Young.” Some of these songs do flop around, like “Trust” and “Close to You,” but “Still Young” is the most solid of these songs and could even become the album’s next single.
Finally, the album ends on a high note with “Still Young” and “I am the DJ,” two solid tracks that blur the line between the slow and up-tempo songs. “I am the DJ” ends with a one-minute haunting instrumental.
“Picture Show” mixes up sounds and themes enough while staying true to the rock core so that it’s a very enjoyable album to listen to. The Neon Trees do seem to be maturing, and that reflects in the music.
Overall, while it isn’t as solid an album as “Habits,” – which was better perhaps because “Habits” was a shorter album and a collection of more than five years of writing music. “Picture Show” definitely has more than enough solid tracks to warrant a purchase.