Pop Psychology Neon Trees first sprouted nearly a decade ago, a mohawked branch on the Killers' dance-rock family cactus. Like their desert-bred forebears, the Mormon-rooted Utah natives… Pop Psychology Neon Trees first sprouted nearly a decade ago, a mohawked branch on the Killers' dance-rock family cactus. Like their desert-bred forebears, the Mormon-rooted Utah natives… 2014-04-22 Neon Trees Rock Mercury
Music Review

Pop Psychology (2014)

HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES AND TOES This album will make you groove all through your body
Image credit: Andrew Zaeh
HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES AND TOES This album will make you groove all through your body
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Release Date: Apr 22, 2014; Lead Performance: Neon Trees; Genre: Rock; Production: Mercury

Neon Trees first sprouted nearly a decade ago, a mohawked branch on the Killers' dance-rock family cactus. Like their desert-bred forebears, the Mormon-rooted Utah natives mastered the Technicolor hedonism of modern-rock radio — a sound splashed all over their breakout singles ''Animal'' and ''Everybody Talks.'' And on their third release, they've boldly put the word ''pop'' in the title, signaling their full-on turn to sugar-smacked new-wave revivalism.

But lurking beneath the shiny primary colors is a complex new collage of adult perspective. It's a natural reflection of their personal lives: Since their last album, frontman Tyler Glenn has come out as gay and drummer Elaine Bradley became a mother. Glenn's few direct nods to his revelation are just one part of the wiser, more wide-ranging sort of poetry within the sonic gloss, adding an emotional heft the band's earlier songs lacked. ''It's never like it used to be/Maybe it just never really was,'' Glenn croons on the humming ''Voices in the Halls,'' letting in enough grown-up darkness to give the keyboard throbs some weight. Nothing here is as relentlessly hooky as 2012's ''Everybody Talks,'' but its bubbly propulsion informs the cheeky ''I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)'' and swooning ''Teenager in Love.'' That mix of energy and insight makes Psychology a 40-minute master class in the kind of pop that moves both the body and the brain. B+

Best Tracks:
''Unavoidable''
''Living in Another World''

Originally posted Apr 23, 2014 Published in issue #1309 May 02, 2014 Order article reprints