An Album a Day: Pop Psychology

March 19 – Pop Psychology by Neon Trees

Genre: Pop rock
Year: 2014
Runtime: 36:22
Total tracks: 10
Songs you might know:
– “Text Me in the Morning”
– “Sleeping With a Friend”
– “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)”
– “First Things First”

My prior relationship with this album: While I had never listened to any Neon Trees album in its entirety, I do have a certain affinity for Pop Psychology’s lead single “Sleeping With a Friend.” This is part of why I decided to start here instead of their first two albums. I’ve always considered Neon Trees to be one of those bands that’s fun, but not particularly interesting. I was curious to see if their singles were actually representative of what an entire album sounds like, or if they were simply clever marketing tools for more complex, less commercial deep cuts.

My impressions this time around: For the most part, every song on this album clings to a safe, predictable formula. If you’ve heard ANY Neon Trees album, you know that formula: Catchy hooks. Sexual frustration. Simple electric guitar riffs and drumbeats. There’s a couple tracks here that sort of stray from that: “Unavoidable” is a duet featuring the vocals of drummer Elaine Bradley that’s good enough to make you wonder why they don’t feature her vocals more often. “Voices in the Hall” is a forgettable ballad that has the opposite effect, giving you a good understanding of why this band doesn’t do more ballads. “Foolish Behavior” is the formula listed above but lighter on the guitar.

Whether or not this is a good or a bad thing is in the ear of the beholder. I know I certainly have days when I just want a simplistic pop album that’s fun to listen to and doesn’t make me think too hard. That’s what Pop Psychology delivers, nothing more and nothing less. However, the lack of creativity definitely keeps this from being an album I can play on repeat and doesn’t exactly get me revved up to listen to their other albums.

Who would enjoy it? If you like any Neon Trees song you’ve heard before, you’ll probably like all the other songs on this album. If you’re unfamiliar with their sound, just think of it as pop music for people who are too “alternative” to admit they like pop music.

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