Summer is just around the corner, and what more could anyone ask for than a fresh set of songs to listen to over the vacation? Neon Trees released Pop Psychology on April 22, and the track list delivers a splash of the new season with the band’s signature indie-pop rock style.
The album starts off with “Love in the 21st Century,” which involves a rhythmic pounding and a guitar jam, leading into an almost surfer-like medley. The song laments the struggles of love through technology by saying, “I guess it’s love in the 21st century/ it’s tough, broken heart technology/ your kisses taste so sweet/ but then you click delete”; the song’s melody is charming, making for a summery intro to the album.
The first half of the album maintains the same upbeat feel of the first track with honest lyrics about romance and social life. “Teenager In Love,” in particular, gives off a youthful vibe with an energetic pop-rock backup. The kicks in the drums keep the song moving along with the singing-talking narration; the sincerity in the lyrics is welcomed, albeit a little repetitive and overly pessimistic about love.
The album takes a slight shift with the middle track “Unavoidable”: the introduction of female vocals through Elaine Bradley’s melodies is a welcome spin to the track; however, the over-played pop lyrics about romance saying “it’s unavoidable/ you are a magnet/ it’s unavoidable/ I am metallic” hammer the audience with an empty cliché. Nevertheless, the clear vocals on Bradley’s part make the song easy to listen to, if you’re not looking for anything profound.
Neon Trees experiments stylistically with “Voices in the Hall,” creating a kaleidoscopic aura with a reverberating synthesizer in the background. The band makes a flimsy attempt to create a reflective mood for the album. “First Things First” does a better job with thoughtful lyrics using a gospel-like sound. The song is a great contrast with the other more indie-pop songs on the album about love and childhood experiences in that it’s a motivational song. Kicking off with “you are never gonna get everything you want in this world/ first things first, get what you deserve,” the lyrics are strong and poignant. “First Things First” would have been a better ending track than the actual ending track, “American Zero,” since the refreshing album needed to end on a positive note rather than a cynical one—no one can appreciate the arrival of summer otherwise.
Regardless of the few songs that cause hiccups in this otherwise fluid and summery album, Pop Psychology does not disappoint. The album provides a new list of tunes to loop for the summer.