Looking for a healthy dose of pop rock with a side of quirk for your summer playlist? Look no further than Pop Psychology, the latest album from Neon Trees! The Utah-based quartet is back with brighter colors and sounds than ever for their third studio album. We’ve got a track-by-track breakdown for you here:
“LOVE IN THE 21ST CENTURY”
Pop Psychology launches with high energy, heavy on the guitar and drums. “Love in the 21st Century” is about the status quo of relationships with today’s short attention spans and absurd reliance on technology. The lack of intimate communication can exacerbate the sensitivity of an already sensitive situation. It’s fun and true to life.
Standout lyric: “Oh it gets so critical/We become caught up in the trivial/My dear, we’re both a bit too cynical/Come close I’ll give you something spiritual”
“TEXT ME IN THE MORNING”
Neon Trees picks up the pace with this second guitar-driven track about the fleeting nature of relationships in the digital age. It’s more blunt about its intentions, but catchier in its execution.
Standout lyrics: “So text me in the morning/Tell me you still love me/I don’t believe a single word/You tell me you’re tipsy/I tell you you’re pretty/We can spend the night if you’re still sure”
The first single from the album explores the grey area between friends and relationships, along with the dangers of blurring the lines. The easy rhythm lends itself well to radio play.
Standout lyrics: “All my friends, stay up past midnight/Looking for the thing to fill the void/I don’t go out much like I used to/Something ‘bout the strangers and the noise”
“TEENAGER IN LOVE”
Angst over being a teenager in love, much like the 1960’s Dion and the Belmonts song of the same name.
Standout lyrics: “I’m a fool with a curse and a crush/What a magic distraction/What’s the point of romance?”
“I LOVE YOU (BUT I HATE YOUR FRIENDS)”
The second single from Pop Psychology brings out some heavy synthesizer work and wit in the lyrics. The message is simple and blunt—it’s all right there in the title.
Standout lyrics: “I drew my name in lipstick on a mirror at your sister’s house/She told me I was strange, I told her ‘Thanks’ and kissed her on the mouth/’But you don’t go that way/I thought you had a thing for fancy boys’/Looks can be deceiving”
“Unavoidable” is a more traditional love song that uses an extended magnet/metal metaphor to describe the attraction between two people, with lead singer Tyler Glenn and drummer Elaine Bradley teaming up on vocals. Their voices compliment each other nicely; I’d like to see more vocal duets for these two.
Standout lyrics: “I fell asleep last night to the heartbeats in my head”
“VOICES IN THE HALLS”
This slow jam is the only song I’m not totally sold on for this album. The lyrics are haunting and lovely, but I’m not a fan overall. Besides my natural lack of love for many slower songs, the dissonance of the synthesizer is off-putting.
Standout lyrics: “I can taste your lemonade/Bittersweet like every summer fling/And keeping up with all your stories/Talking to your ghost when I’m asleep”
The beginning of this song reminds me of Janet Jackson’s “Together Again,” a favorite of Now 1 CD owners everywhere. Anyway, “Foolish Behavior” has great lyricvs, a lot of 80’s-inspired synth work, and an allusion to the earlier “Teenager in Love.” A solid track all around.
Standout lyrics: “Well you started out a stranger/Foolish behavior brought us together tonight/Could have ran away scared/But somewhere out there/Foolish behavior seems right”
“LIVING IN ANOTHER WORLD”
The strong guitar and fast-paced lyrics harken back to Neon Trees’s previous two albums. The lyrics themselves fall in line with Pop Psychology’s tendency to look back on teenage experiences.
Standout lyrics: “These are nights I feel like I could die/Four chords and a beat keep me alive/You can barely recognize/Everything beyond my eyes/I’ve been going through it my whole life”
The chill, upbeat sound of this tune masks melancholic, introspective lyrics about the journey to fame. This one comes off as more obviously personal than the others.
Standout lyrics: “You learn to lie about forgiveness/When you choose to let down all your pride”
Overall, Neon Trees has done a great thing with Pop Psychology. It’s more introspective and less frantic than their first two albums, but retains their slightly quirky lyrics and upbeat styles. Check this out if you’re a Neon Trees fan or are looking for some pop-rock with character.